A snippet of good news rocked the DREAM centre of Conakry in Guinea a few days ago. The news boosted the hopes of everyone, workers and patients, and gave a glimpse of a different, better future for many children living in the African continent.
A spontaneous, well-attended party welcomed the great news of the certain negative status of the first child born on the (mother-to-child) vertical prevention programme, which was started by DREAM in Guinea something over a year ago.
This was the result of a check-up routinely carried out in this type of programme at a fixed time after the birth, to verify that a child born to an HIV-positive mother did not get the virus from his or her mother.
In effect, DREAM has chosen to place vertical prevention at the heart of all efforts and treatment activities undertaken in its structures. It is a choice to safeguard the future of Africa, to ensure that a generation of children free of HIV is born in the continent. In DREAM centres, as happens in the Northern Hemisphere, the administration of antiretroviral drugs to the pregnant woman – apart from saving the mother’s life – brings down the quantity of the virus in her blood so rapidly and significantly that its transmission to the newborn is avoided (this is what happens in 98% of cases).
Well then, the monitoring test carried out on the baby girl M’Mahawa, gave the certainty that there was no HIV in her blood. The little girl – who we hope and are certain is the first of a long series (more than 120 children were born on the programme so far and as many pregnancies are currently being followed up at the centre) – was HIV-negative.
Her mother was so happy; she clapped her hands and was beside herself with joy when she saw the result of the test. That day, a UNAIDS representative was present at the DREAM centre, and he heartily congratulated the mother, who proudly basked in the attention lavished on her daughter. Military doctors, who were at the centre thanks to an agreement signed in July with the Guinean army, were also visibly moved.
M’Mahawa received a gift, a lovely little dress with flowers, so she could take part in the universal joy too.