LIFESTYLE
01/12/2017 06:39 SAST | Updated 01/12/2017 06:40 SAST

WATCH: Fighting Mother-Child HIV Transmission One At A Time

Mother-to-child HIV infections can be defeated, thanks to community activists who have dedicated themselves to the fight.

MShep2 via Getty Images

Every day, South African children are brought closer to an HIV-free generation, thanks to activists who have dedicated their lives to the fight against mother-to-child transmission of HIV.

One such activist is 34-year-old Irene Nkosi, from Dark City near Pretoria. She sat down with HuffPost ahead of World Aids Day to speak about the importance of educating HIV-positive pregnant women.

A proud mother of two herself, Nkosi learnt that she was HIV-positive during her second pregnancy. This is how she got introduced to mothers2mothers (m2m) –– an organisation that employs and trains HIV-positive women as "mentor mothers" to deliver health services, advice and support to women and their families at health facilities and in local communities.

"When I talk to other HIV-positive pregnant women, I'm talking about something I've gone through, not something I've read about in a book," the mentor mother explained.

Nkosi says the fears that HIV-positive pregnant women have are real. "The fear HIV-positive and pregnant women have, is of infecting the little baby they are carrying."

It is for this reason that she believes she and other mentor mothers are doing crucial work. "The job that I do is very important in this area, because there was a lot of stigma and discrimination against HIV."

It is for her incredible work in this community that Nkosi is the only African who made it to U.S. People magazine's list of 25 Women Changing The World in 2017.

She appears alongside transgender-rights activist Janet Mock, musicians like Pink and Janelle Monae, and Hollywood actresses including Tracee Ellis Ross and Gal Gadot-Varsano.

READ: Meet Irene Nkosi: The Only African On People's '25 Women Changing The World List'

This World Aids Day, Nkosi's message is that an HIV-free generation is possible, but a great part of this job requires raising more awareness about mother-to-child HIV transmission, particularly in remote communities.

She has encouraged mothers who are diagnosed with the virus to not hide or throw in the towel -- as she and others are proof that a healthy and fulfilling life is possible for them and their unborn children.

To find m2m mentor mothers at a healthcare facility near you, visit this page. The organisation, which started in Cape Town in 2001, now has a footprint in eight African nations.