m2m Travels Down Under

m2m was represented at the 20th International AIDS Conference, AIDS 2014, last month in Melbourne, Australia, by staff from our South Africa, Kenya, and Uganda offices. They returned home inspired and enlightened, and we want to share some of their highlights.

MilkerMilker Simba, Senior Programme Manager, m2m Kenya

Stepping Up the Pace was a fitting theme for AIDS 2014. It was exhilarating to be one of more than 14,000 delegates attending the conference, moving from one session to another. All the sessions I attended were fascinating and the following information especially stood out:

One of the most disappointing things I learned is that adolescents are falling out of the treatment cascade with HIV being the leading cause of adolescents’ deaths in Africa and second leading cause globally after accidents. Many are not being detected and those who are diagnosed still face the challenges of stigma and discrimination.

SarahSarah Auma, Monitoring and Evaluation Coordinator, m2m Uganda

It was fantastic to be one of four delegates representing mothers2mothers at the AIDS 2014 Conference in the beautiful city of Melbourne, Australia. I think the conference was a success. Young people in particular took centre stage to advocate for more space, funding, and greater involvement in issues affecting their health. Community engagement and the need to sustain the contribution of people living with HIV (PLHIV), such as our Mentor Mothers, were also a big focus.

Considering the direction the HIV & AIDS Community is taking, there is no doubt in my mind that the Mentor Mother model will continue to be relevant, particularly in terms of PLHIV empowerment, advocacy, and increasing the uptake of services through improved linkages, adherence to treatment, and retention across the continuum of care. The conference reinforced to me the need for m2m to continuously document the successes of its model, evaluate it for improvement, and integrate it in the national health programmes to maximise its impact and ensure its sustainability.

I had the privilege of giving an oral presentation entitled Contribution of lay health providers in scaling up Option B+ interventions: a case of concerted efforts of Mentor Mothers through psychosocial support groups in East Central Uganda. The interest in the role that lay workers such as Mentor Mothers can play in eliminating mother-to-child transmission of HIV (e-MTCT) was very encouraging.

Many abstracts and sessions grabbed my attention, including: Innovative Methods of HIV Programme Evaluation, Living with HIV: Transitions to Adulthood, and Men Matter.

m2m’s posters and presentations at IAS