All HIV positive pregnant women should take ARVs so that they and their baby stay healthy. The only way for women to get the right ARVs is to go to their clinic and speak to the nurse or doctor there. Not everyone in your support groups will be taking exactly the same ARVs in the same way – this is important to remember when you are giving them advice or sending out messages. The only message to give about ARVs is that they must be taken every day as prescribed by a doctor or nurse.  You can also encourage women to talk to their healthcare worker if they have any questions or are experiencing any problems with their medication.

There are new South African guidelines about PMTCT, HIV and pregnancy which means, depending on when a woman fell pregnant or had her baby, she may have been given different advice from her friends or family members. Sometimes South Africa changes its guidelines about HIV when it learns about new research and easier ways of giving women treatment.  This means not every woman in your group will have been given the same information – they shouldn’t worry about this.  You can explain to them that guidelines change when new information becomes available.

You may have heard about the ‘FDC’ or Fixed Dose Combination ARVs. Depending on which ARVs participants have been prescribed, instead of taking three pills a day, there is now one ARV pill that works in the same way.  People who go to their clinic to test for HIV and start ARV treatment for the first time will be given this.  Don’t worry – everyone will get it eventually, but clinics need time to get used to the new system so not everyone is starting immediately.  Pregnant women must continue taking their pills as prescribed by their doctor or nurses in order to keep themselves and their baby healthy.  

Example SMS:

Understanding your ARVs will keep you healthy. If you have questions about your medication, don’t be afraid to ask at your clinic!

Different people are given different ARVs. Don’t worry if you have different medication from your friends or family.

If your doctor or nurse changes your medication and you don’t understand why, ask them! It is your right to get information.

Take your medication as prescribed, even if you have been given different information from your friends or family.

Pregnancy can be tiring without having to take ARVs every day but remembering your pills will keep you and your baby healthy.