India on world map

The Most Beautiful Smile, Part II

September 20, 2010 - India

by Caitlin McQuilling

Back in April I blogged about an HIV+ pregnant woman who came to talk about terminating a pregnancy.  She had already lost 4 children, still births, before she was diagnosed HIV, and then saw no hope in this 5th pregnancy.  When she came in however, she was already past 3 months pregnant, too late for an abortion.  We counseled the family that its possible for an HIV mother to have an HIV- child, 99% positive actually, if the family follows the proper Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission protocol (PMTCT).  I’ve never seen someone more relieved and hopeful in my life than this woman that day (here’s a link to my original blog:

Over the past 6 months our patient and her husband have been extremely diligent about following all of the doctor’s orders and our counseling advice.  The expecting mother was religious about taking her ART medication and made sure she ate for two.  When the time of her due date came near, the family went to Indore, the nearest ART center for delivery.

On September 9th, our two HIV+ patients welcomed a beautiful, healthy, 2.6 kg, little boy.  Before even calling his family to tell them the happy news, the father called Devika, our HIV counselor who had been with the family every step of the pregnancy, to tell her the news.

Working with RMF in rural India definitely has its trying moments, but today I got reap one of the best perks of the job.  We visited the family, who are still at the hospital while mom is recovering from her cesarean, and the new baby (yet to be named, as per their custom).  A beautiful, HIV- (99% chance, we can only be 100% sure at 6 weeks), little boy with a full head of hair and his father’s eyebrows.

As I spoke to the mother and ogled over the tiny hands, tiny feet, and the way his nose scrunched up as he dreamed, the look on her face brought tears to my eyes again.  The most radiant smile I’ve ever seen again crossed her face.  The smile of awe and pride of a new mother, amplified by the relief of a mother who’s child she worried about so much is going to survive.

With dedicated staff such as Devika, our counselor and the Indore ART center staff and the miracle PMTCT drugs available in India today, a tiny life was saved.  The same day, another pregnant woman was diagnosed as HIV+ at our ICTC center in Jhabua.  One success story completed and another one beginning.

For more information about RMF’s HIV/AIDS treatment, education and outreach programs in India, click here.

Folllow us on Twitter or Facebook

To contribute to this or any of our other initiatives, please visit our website at

Return to Top