A major charity Comedy Night has raised in excess of £5,000 for a key health initiative, benefitting women living with HIV across Sussex.
The sum raised will enable a baby feeding choices project to be funded for an entire year, run by the Women and Families Service at the Sussex Beacon, alongside the Lawson Unit’s Sunflower Clinic.
Hattie Yannaghas, the Sussex Beacon’s Community Services Manager, said: “Breast milk is one of the ways in which the HIV virus can be transmitted. HIV treatment can lead to an undetectable viral load (U=U), meaning the risk of HIV transmission to the baby is less than 1 in 1000. However, the potential risk is still there, so the choice whether to breast feed or not should be up to the mother.
“The Sussex Beacon wants to support all women in making their own choice about how to feed their babies. We aim to help inform them of all their options and, alongside the Lawson Unit’s Women’s Sunflower Clinic team, led by Professor Yvonne Gilleece, support them in accessing holistic advice.
“For example, if someone does choose to breast feed, we can provide a medical grade pump, however this costs us £47 a month. If the mother decides not to breast feed we can provide formula milk and sterilising equipment, which costs us around the same amount. This support is not available through the NHS, so often we are the only resource available for new mums.
“The money raised as a result of the Comedy Night Benefit will help women living with HIV to continue accessing professional, peer, and practical support to feed their babies. It will empower them to be able to make the best decision for them and their families.”
Hosted by the hugely popular Zoe Lyons, having returned from starring in Celebrity SAS only days before, the evening also featured Rosie Jones (who wowed the crowds when appearing on the Sussex Beacon Brighton Pride Bus earlier this year), multi award-winning comedian Laura Lexx and headliner Jen Brister, who is currently on her solo tour The Optimist.