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Global Health Alumna Melanie Bisnauth’s Research Evaluates Treatment Program for HIV-Positive Mothers

Melanie Bisnauth

MSc Global Health alumna Melanie Bisnauth.

November 24, 2017

MSc Global Health program alumna Melanie Bisnauth recently joined the Migration and Health Project Southern Africa (maHp) – a project that aims to explore and evaluate ways to generate and communicate knowledge to improve responses to migration, health and well-being in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region.

Bisnauth’s focus is on marginalized women’s barriers to access when it comes to HIV/AIDS health care services, and her recent research reveals that a difficult healthcare environment has affected overall views and experiences of pregnant HIV-positive women going on antiretroviral therapy (ART) for life.

South Africa has the world’s largest HIV epidemic, and among the 7.1 million (STATS SA, 2016) people living with the disease, women aged 15-24 account for 25% of new infections – four times that of men.

Currently completing a PhD in Population and Public Health in collaboration with the African Centre for Migration and Society through the University of Witwatersrand, Bisnauth is passionate about patient-centered care in South Africa because. "I want to provide a platform that will give voice to those often silenced – whether it’s the patients or frontline healthcare professionals," says Bisnauth.

For her PhD research, Bisnauth evaluated the impact of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) guidelines on Option B+ – the recommendation to health providers in HIV-affected countries to initiate all HIV-positive pregnant and breastfeeding women on antiretroviral therapy (ART) for life. Looking specifically at the Option B+ prevention of mother to child transmission (PMTCT) program, Bisnauth monitored the work of healthcare professionals, and pregnant HIV infected women’s experiences on ART for life, as a way to improve management of the program.

Read about Melanie Bisnauth’s research