Mitchell Besser

As an obstetrician and gynecologist, Dr. Mitchell Besser’s professional career has been dedicated to the public health needs of women.  In 1999, Dr. Besser joined the University of Cape Town's Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, assisting with the development of services to meet the needs of pregnant women living with HIV and to prevent the transmission of HIV from mothers to their children (PMTCT).  It was there that he recognized the need for services that would provide education and psychosocial support to pregnant and recently delivered women who were battling with an HIV diagnosis, allowing them to make healthy choices for themselves and their babies. This recognition was the founding principle behind mothers2mothers (m2m). For more information, please visit www.m2m.org or follow us @m2mtweets.

Advances in in vitro HIV/AIDS diagnostics, combined with the development of highly effective antiretroviral (ARV) drugs, have significantly reduced the transmission of HIV from mother to baby and greatly improved health outcomes for mothers living with HIV. Simple and inexpensive tests screen for HIV within minutes, and point of care CD4 testing enables doctors to closely monitor a patient’s immune system to prescribe an effective combination of ARVs to keep mothers healthy during and after their pregnancy and their babies HIV-free. As a result, new pediatric HIV infections have nearly halved in the last eight years and the number of deaths each year attributed to AIDS-related causes dropped 24% since the peak in 2005, to approximately 1.7 million in 2011.