World AIDS Day (1st December) is always an important day for us at m2m, as the world comes together to reflect on how far we have come, and still have to go, in the fight against HIV/AIDS. This past December, our observances spanned the globe.
The theme for World AIDS Day 2018 was “#KnowYourStatus.” While three in four people living with HIV now know their status, nearly 10 million people living with HIV today still do not. If we are to end AIDS by 2030, we must ensure these people are diagnosed, linked to quality care and prevention services, and are on treatment.
mothers2mothers (m2m) Mentor Mothers are acutely aware of this challenge and actively identify HIV-exposed children, adolescents, women and families at health facilities and in communities. They educate them about the importance of testing and support them throughout the testing process. In 2017, 91% of HIV-negative pregnant women and new mothers we served in Eswatini, Lesotho, and Uganda had at least one HIV test during their enrolment with m2m—most have had three!
So in South Africa, Mozambique and the UK, we were keen to put a spotlight on the tremendous work m2m Mentor Mothers are doing in helping people know their status. Here is what we got up to on this jam-packed day.
In South Africa, m2m hosted 20 social media influencers from across the world in Johannesburg, in partnership with longtime supporter Johnson & Johnson (J&J). The influencers were introduced to our work, our partnership with J&J, and our involvement with the technology platform MomConnect. They visited m2m clients and Mentor Mothers homes and heard first-hand about the support they received through m2m.
m2m also attended the official National Department of Health event at Dobsonville Stadium in Soweto, where citizens came to unite in the fight against HIV. m2m Mentor Mothers and Programmes representatives were on hand to engage with attendees and share crucial information on the importance of testing for HIV and of being on treatment.
In neighbouring Mozambique, marches and memorials of candles were organised to raise awareness about HIV prevention & treatment, and to show solidarity with those who have been affected by the epidemic. Mentor Mothers also ran a stall in Zambézia province, one of the regions with the largest number of people living with HIV in the country, giving advice about the importance of testing & treatment, and how partners can support each other. The Minister of Health visited the stand and expressed her gratitude to the Mentor Mothers for their important work. In Sofala province, around 40 bicycles were offered to Mentor Mothers to help them connect the community with health facilities.
In the UK, World AIDS Day activities kicked off with Red Run UK, London’s biggest community HIV event. Over 2,000 people from 40 different HIV charities came together to run 5 or 10k, raising vital funds and awareness for HIV. Ten people ran the m2m flag and, despite the British rain, did a fantastic job. On the other side of London, Mentor Mother Khanyisile Mavimbela from Eswatini took centre stage in a brilliant Sky News interview.
This was just one stop on her whirlwind trip to London, during which she shared her story with various partners and donors. She also delivered a powerful speech during m2m’s annual Carols by Candlelight, where over 400 guests enjoyed a beautiful performance from St Paul’s Choir, readings from m2m Patrons Sam Bond and Rochelle Humes, and m2m friends Christian Brassington, Matt Barber, Christopher Timothy, AND an incredible performance from West End star Moya Angela. It was a magical evening which marked the end of our World AIDS Day celebrations in such a special way.
That weekend was an opportunity for everyone across the globe to come together and stand united in the fight against #HIV/AIDS and we were so excited to be a part this.