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The story of Queen and 'beautiful gift' Neo

The name Neo means ‘beautiful gift’ and that’s exactly what baby Neo is to mom, Queen. While it’s perfectly natural for expectant moms to be concerned about the health of their babies, Queen – who was HIV-positive when she became pregnant – had every reason to be truly worried.

Worldwide, mother-to-child transmission of HIV accounts for 90 per cent of all children living with the virus. In countries like South Africa, where Queen lives, HIV contributes to up to 28 per cent of all deaths among children under five years of age. Preventative measures including antiretroviral medication and antenatal counselling can reduce the risk of mother-to-child HIV transmission to less than five per cent, but access to such care remains a challenge, especially in Eastern and Southern Africa.

Fortunately, when Queen was pregnant with Neo, she got the life-saving medication and care she needed through a UNICEF prevention program. And it worked! Neo has tested negative to her first two HIV tests. Queen lights up whenever she talks about her happy and healthy baby girl who loves to play with her older brother and hates the word ‘nappy’.

But for every happy ending there are still countless moms and babies at risk. In South Africa alone, it is estimated that there are more than 300,000 HIV-positive pregnant women.

Thanks to your support we were able to help many other mothers and babies, like Queen and Neo. This Mother’s Day, give the gift of HIV tests, tetanus vaccines, baby blankets and more to help more moms and babies survive.

After all, saving the life of a child like Neo is the most ‘beautiful gift’ of all.