May 02, 2008 08:00 ET

UNICEF Canada: This Mother's Day Give the Gift of Hope for Mothers Around the World

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - May 2, 2008) -

Attention: Lifestyle Editors

This Mother's Day, UNICEF Canada is asking you to honour mothers around the world, by giving mothers and their newborns a fighting chance against HIV. By purchasing a Gift of Hope for your mother on Mother's Day, you will support UNICEF's global efforts to stop the transmission of HIV from mother to child.

Almost every minute of every day, a baby is born with HIV, passed on by his or her mother during pregnancy, labour or upon delivery. Such transmissions account for 90 per cent of all new infections in children with nearly 1,200 children infected daily.

"For those in the world's poorer countries, being born with HIV is often tantamount to a death sentence," said Nigel Fisher, President & CEO, UNICEF Canada. "The harsh truth is that without treatment, half of all HIV-positive babies will not live long enough to see their second birthday. A third will die by their first birthday."

The good news is that we can prevent the transmission of HIV from mother to baby. With HIV test kits that cost only a few dollars, medicine, and education, the risk of transmitting HIV to newborns can be reduced to as low as two per cent.

In industrialized countries like Canada, mother-to-child transmission of HIV has been virtually eliminated. Sadly, in developing countries, children are still at risk of contracting HIV from their HIV-positive mother since prevention services are largely inaccessible.

In Rwanda, only 36 per cent of mothers have access to antiretroviral medication to help prevent transmission of HIV to their unborn children. Overall, in East and South Africa only 14 per cent of women have access to antiretroviral medicines. InWest and Central Africa the rate is only two per cent -- the lowest in the world. This is a terrible injustice to some of the most vulnerable children around the world. That is why UNICEF Canada is calling for action.

How You Can Help

This Mother's Day, purchase a Gift of Hope and support our global efforts to stop the transmission of HIV from mother-to-child. For example:

- A donation of $27 is enough money to provide rapid HIV test kits for 25 expecting mothers. Once a woman knows her status, she can make informed decisions regarding treatment, in time to prevent her baby from contracting HIV.

- A $50 donation is enough to provide medicine to mothers and their babies at birth, allowing infants the opportunity to begin their lives HIV-free.

- A donation of $110 will support one child orphaned by AIDS, providing them with essentials such as vitamins, medicine and school fees for about one year.

This Mother's Day, UNICEF Canada is asking you to honour mothers around the world, by giving mothers and their newborns a fighting chance against HIV. To purchase a Gift of Hope, visit www.uniteforchildren.ca or call 1-888-777-0380.

Also for Mother's Day, UNICEF Canada is sharing an inspiring video entitled 'The Gift', narrated by Gwyneth Paltrow. 'The Gift' is a beautiful love story, based on a poem by Simon Armitage. Filmed on location in Rwanda, this film tells the story of a young couple, Monique and Patrick, who fall in love, marry, and start a family. While pregnant with their first child, Monique learns she is HIV-positive. Upon hearing this news, Patrick abandons Monique and she is left to give birth on her own, uncertain if her child will be born with the unwanted gift of HIV.

To view 'The Gift' please visit www.uniteforchildren.ca.


UNICEF is the world's leader for children, working in 156 countries and territories to save, protect and enhance the lives of girls and boys. UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, promotes quality basic education, protects children from violence, exploitation and AIDS, and is the world's largest provider of vaccines for developing nations. A global leader in emergencies with six decades of on-the-ground experience, UNICEF saves and rebuilds children's lives in natural disasters and conflict. UNICEF is funded entirely by voluntary contributions from individuals, businesses, foundations, schools, associations and governments.

Contact Information

  • UNICEF Canada
    Karen Snider
    Media Relations Officer
    (416) 482-4444 ext. 831
    Email: ksnider@unicef.ca