Have you ever known someone who needed help with a problem, but fear or shame prevented them from seeking the help they so desperately needed? Many individuals in Mozambique suffer this dilemma, especially when it comes to the stigma associated with HIV. The fact that many health personnel do not adhere to patient privacy and confidentiality standards makes it even more difficult for individuals to be willing to seek treatment.
Dr. Vladimir John has seen this dilemma time and again. In addition to his role as our Medical Director, Dr. John serves Hope of a Nation through door-to-door medical outreaches in the volatile province of Cabo Delgado, Mozambique, a gas rich area that has been plagued with jihadist insurgency for five years. Nearly a million people have been displaced from their homes due to the violent attacks by these extremists who have gained a foothold in Mozambique's northern communities.
One such refugee is a 41-year-old woman who we’ll call “Mary.” In 2021, Mary fled her home in Mocimboa de Praia to Pemba, a 5 ½ hour drive south of her devastated hometown. Pemba has seen an influx of refugees from Mary’s region, resulting in host homes that are overflowing with people in need of shelter and safety.
Dr. John met Mary this past year when performing door-to-door health activities. He discovered that not only was she pregnant, but she was also HIV positive and had abandoned her treatment because of the stigma. She had refused to go and get her HIV medication, which is available to Mozambicans at no charge. Dr. John was able to educate her on the impact to her baby, gain her trust, and encourage her to resume treatment. To ease Mary's concerns, he coordinated with local health authorities to deliver the HIV medication to her.
When it came time for the delivery of her child, the newborn was discovered to be HIV-FREE! Praise God!
In order to certify the baby’s HIV status, the child was subjected to a PCR test one month after birth at which time he/she was still negative. Dr. John hopes to continue following up with Mary until her child is 6 months old. To ensure the baby remains HIV negative, Mary must feed the baby formula rather than breastfeeding. This is certainly a challenge in Mozambique, especially in an area that is inundated with a larger population than their product supply chain can support. Your prayers for Mary and her baby are needed and very much appreciated.