Martha Jere holds her 8 month-old son Rahim at their home in Bilemoni village, Malawi. © UNICEF/UNI201826/Schermbrucker
Martha was born with HIV at a time when a diagnosis often meant death, especially for children in low income countries. Now a mother herself, Martha has defied the odds and her son Rahim is part of Malawi’s AIDs-free generation.
A decade ago, less than 1% of pregnant and breastfeeding women living with HIV were receiving the best treatment available. Now, three in five are on antiretroviral treatment. To prevent transmission from mother to child, Martha took daily treatment and tested Rahim six weeks after he was born.
Martha raises him independently, and is clearly proud of her young son: “I was so excited, so happy he was not carrying the virus. [He’s] growing healthy and strong. He is happy, friendly and feels comfortable with anybody.”
After receiving assistance through a teen support group as an adolescent mother living with HIV, Martha now speaks publicly about her experiences to help other young mothers. “I encourage other mothers I meet that even if they’re HIV-positive, it’s not the end of the world, they can still live a long life.”