Dr. Agnes Moses is a pioneer of preventing mother-to-child HIV transmission in her native Malawi. As a graduate of the University of Malawi College of Medicine who decided to stay in her native country and work to improve the lives of her countrymen, she is a rare and valuable resource. With just one doctor for every 50,000 people, Malawi faces extreme human resource challenges. In addition, the national HIV prevalence rate is 12 percent. Out of a population of 14 million, almost one million are infected with the disease. 60 percent of those infected are women. Less than 200,000 people are on ARV treatment.
In 2001 she became a program manager for the UNC’s Project Malawi, one of the country’s first local attempts to prevent mother-to-child transmission. There has been a significant decrease in mother-to-child transmissions since the start of the program: in 2001, 24 percent of pregnant women in the capital of Lilongwe were infected, and by six weeks after birth, 27 percent of their children would become infected as well. Initital results have shown that the HIV infection rate at six weeks is now 11-14 percent. It is because of these efforts that Dr. Moses received the International Leadership Award from the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation last year.