Maternal health is critical to achieving an end to AIDS by 2030, and to realizing
all Sustainable Development Goals and the Global Strategy for Women’s,
Children’s, and Adolescents’ Health.
Maternal death: While maternal mortality has fallen by 44%
since 1990, pregnancy continues to carry a high risk of death worldwide,
especially for women living with HIV.
Globally, 800 women die every day due to largely preventable complications
during pregnancy and childbirth – which amounted to an estimated 289,000
maternal deaths in 2010.
HIV and AIDS caused an estimated 56,100 maternal deaths globally in 2011, and
almost 1 in 10 maternal deaths in Sub-Saharan Africa resulted from HIV-related
Low access to maternal health services, Including lack of skilled birth attendants: Studies have revealed low utilization by women living with HIV of critical
maternal health services, including voluntary or routine HIV counselling
and testing, prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV, appropriate
contraceptives, antenatal care (ANC), and post natal care (PNC).
This lack of utilization is largely driven by violations of women’s rights
both during pregnancy and during the breastfeeding period. Additionally,
women living with HIV and AIDS lack skilled attendants at birth, who can
greatly reduce the risk of maternal and new born mortality.
Women living with HIV may be more affected by certain reproductive health-related
complications, including miscarriage, post-partum haemorrhage, puerperal
sepsis, and complications from caesarean section deliveries.
While mothers should have a choice about their birthing strategy, home-based
births must also be coupled with strategies that remove community barriers
to accessing emergency obstetric care, including birth attendants’
recognition of danger signs and effective referral mechanisms.
Abortion: Globally, women living with HIV often lack
access to safe abortion. Every year, worldwide, about 42 million
women with unintended pregnancies choose abortion, and nearly half
of these procedures, 20 million, are unsafe.
Inadequate and inaccurate information: Many women
living with HIV lack accurate and up-to-date information on reproductive
health, including family planning methods, abortion, sterilization,
STIs, free and informed consent requirements, and PMTCT.
Unmet need for contraception: Women and girls living
with HIV experience unmet need for contraception; globally, 225
million women who wish to delay or avoid pregnancy have an unmet
need for contraception.
Stigma and discrimination: Women living with HIV
encounter multiple barriers when trying to access services
at health centres. These include stigma and discrimination
from their families, their communities, and health workers.
ICW calls upon all the stakeholders at all levels to recognize the need to eradicate barriers for improving maternal
health among women and girls living with HIV.
- Women and girls living with HIV must be provided with accurate
and comprehensive information on all aspects of maternal
health and rights;
- Stakeholders must develop and promote programs and policies
that combat stigma, discrimination, and abuse women living
with HIV face in healthcare settings;
- Stakeholders must develop programs and services that promote
comprehensive, holistic care strategies that address barriers
to accessing early antenatal care and include psychosocial
support for women living with HIV; and ensure meaningful
involvement of women living with HIV in the design, implementation,
and evaluation of these programs and services;
- Stakeholders must increase research on drivers of positive
maternal health outcomes for women living with HIV; in
particular, research to identify causes of higher maternal
mortality among women living with HIV and to develop evidence-based
responses to maternal health disparities for women living
- Access to treatment, care, and support and PVT services
must be increased, and women living with HIV must be
empowered to make voluntary, fully informed, autonomous
decisions about whether and when to be treated;
- All branches of government must be involved in the response
to maternal mortality, HIV and gender-based discrimination.
ICW calls upon women to demand accountability from their governments for maternal health care, and to advocate for increased access to health information and services.
Join the conversation on Twitter #IntlMHDay.
NOTHING FOR US WITHOUT US!