Laura Bush Visits S. African Program That Aims to Prevent Mother-to-Child HIV Transmission on First Day of Tour
July 12, 2005
First lady Laura Bush on Tuesday began her four-day tour of three African countries with a visit to Khayelitsha township in Cape Town, South Africa, where she spoke with women enrolled in a peer education program for mothers and pregnant women that aims to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission, the AP/Guardian reports (Loven, AP/Guardian, 7/12). The program provides services to between 2,500 and 3,000 pregnant women each month, according to program Director Robin Smalley (Agence France-Presse, 7/11). The pregnant women participating in the Mothers' Programmes learn about medications, nutrition, formula feeding, and how to combat stigma and societal pressures. After their infants are born, the women become mentors to new women entering the program. Mentors are paid a small salary and participate in other entrepreneurial projects, such as beading and blanket-making groups, giving them a chance to become financially independent (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/27). Bush on Tuesday also was scheduled to meet with South Africans who are working to combat domestic violence, a key component of the fight against HIV/AIDS in South Africa. Bush's tour is intended to highlight the epidemic on the continent (AP/Guardian, 7/12). From South Africa, Bush on Wednesday will travel to Tanzania to visit AIDS orphans there (Loven, AP/Newark Star-Ledger, 7/12). She then will travel to Rwanda to participate in a discussion on women and democracy with Rwandan first lady Jeannette Kagame (Agence France-Presse, 7/11).
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