Lena is a 28-year-old lady who just gave birth to her second child. Her first child is over two years old and his follow-up examination has shown he is still free from hiv. However, Lena fears that it may not be the same for her second child, since this time the C-section was very delayed. It wasn’t until she presented symptoms of tachycardia and that fetal distress was evident, that they proceeded to operate on her. Besides, due to what she considers to be a case of negligence, they removed her uterus.
This is not the first case of discrimination, negligence and obstetric violence, as the experts call it; that’s why the Peruvian Network of Women with HIV (RPM+) started a pilot project some months ago, which provides advisory support and accompaniment to women during their gestation period and labor and monitor their situation until the children have been discharged when they’re two years old.
On the other hand, Maria is 20 years old and her labor was hard too. The health center never scheduled her C-section; when she arrived and was in labor they told her to come back the next day.
Guiselly Flores, Intervention Coordinator of the Network, explains that through counseling and along with the health center of the Ministry of Health, they approach pregnant women who were recently diagnosed and who, for some reason, generally stigma, moved away from the health system. “Our counseling team uses the health center information, such as the address, to start the search of pregnant women”, the Coordinator observes.
According to Flores, the Ministry of Health joined the project uneasily, feeling obliged due to international involvements and without ensuring economic sustainability for these community activities that, according to her, must be added as part of the strategy to approach pregnant women.
Through this pilot project, the RPM+ seeks to collect evidence regarding the benefits of community outreach to reduce discrimination on health centers, ensure healthcare for pregnant women and reduce to zero the vertical mother-to-child transmission in Peru. Besides, it is an opportunity to show the role counselors play when ensuring healthcare and thus add similar activities throughout the country.