Preventing Mother-to-Child HIV Transmission in Haiti

John Werley
John Werley is a healthy 2-year-old in Haiti, thanks to HIV medication for his mother, Jonise.
Jimmy Felix, SCMS
A mother's hope realized, a son free of HIV
“Without the medicines and supplies that SCMS delivers, these pregnant women and their children would die.”

On Aug. 18, 2011, Jonise* and her son, John Werley*, traveled to Hôpital Evangélique in Bombardopolis, a small town in Haiti’s northwest region known for its difficult terrain. Jonise was making a routine visit to the clinic to receive her monthly supply of medication. The mood was tense. Jonise, who was diagnosed with HIV in 2005, lived in anticipation of the day her 11-month-old son would be tested for HIV.

On his first birthday, Sept. 15, 2011, the 12-month wait was over. John Werley was tested at the clinic at Bombardopolis. His test results showed no sign of HIV.

“I was so relieved,” said Jonise, who had been living in fear waiting for the results. “I am so happy because I now see life for John Werley.”

The outcome for the young boy is the result of the clinic’s prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) program, which provided treatment to HIV-positive Jonise throughout her pregnancy to prevent her child from being born with the virus that causes AIDS. Between January 2012 and January 2013, 12 out of 13 children born in the PMTCT program at Bombardopolis tested negative for HIV.

“SCMS [the Supply Chain Management System] is the motor behind this program,” said Kerda Sylvain, PMTCT program manager at Hôpital Evangélique. “Without the medicines and supplies that SCMS delivers, these pregnant women and their children would die.”

SCMS makes monthly trips to deliver life-saving medicines for the nearly 250 patients that visit the hospital’s AIDS program each month.

With funding from the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), administered locally by USAID, SCMS has been supporting Haiti’s national AIDS program since 2006. The system delivers antiretroviral drugs to treat opportunistic infections, as well as rapid test kits and lab commodities to PMTCT programs in more than 120 USAID-supported sites throughout the island.

According to Haiti’s Ministry of Public Health’s official database for the AIDS program, only 75 out of 779 exposed children enrolled in the national PMTCT program tested positive for HIV in June 2013, a 90 percent success rate and a direct result of PEPFAR and USAID support.

Today, John Werley is a healthy, thriving 2-year-old toddler, thanks to his mother’s unrelenting compliance with the program.

“He loves to play and is a real terror with other kids,” laughs his mother. As for Jonise, she continues to do well. She takes her medication every day and goes to the clinic every month.

But she is mostly thankful for her son’s opportunity to live a normal life. Jonise smiles as she says, “John Werley will be starting school this September."

*Full names not available.