HIV/AIDS remains one of the biggest medical and social problem that Sub Saharan Africa is facing. According to UNAIDS about 33.3 million people are globally infected by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus and 2.6 million new infections per year and 2 million deaths per year, 76% of these occurring in Sub-Saharian Africa.
Kenya is not left behind and the current prevalence rate is estimated at 7.4 % with 1.5 million people infected. Prevalence varies in the country depending on the location and gender of people. Urban areas have higher prevalence than rural at 8.9 and 7.0% respectively. However the burden is higher in the rural areas as over 75% of the population live in the rural areas. Regional Nyanza continues to have the highest prevalence rate at 15% followed by Nairobi at 10%. HIV prevalence among women is also twice as high as for men, 8% and 4.3% respectively. However this disparity is even higher for young women aged 15-24 who are four times more likely to become infected by HIV than men of the same age. The high prevalence rate amongst women is a result of poverty that drives them to commercial sex work. Indeed 14.1% of the new infections are due to sex workers in Kenya.
HIV and AIDS have profound social, economic and medical impacts. HIV and AIDS management is very costly in order to purchase drugs. They have been given for free since 2005 as an attempt from the government to reduce mortality related to AIDS because many people could not afford the ARVs (Anti-retrovirals). HIV and AIDS have reduced life expectancy in Kenya from 60 to 47 years. Besides 1.2 million children have been orphaned by AIDS and the situation will get worse as more infected adults pass on. In addition it affects productivity, wealth accumulation and perpetuates poverty in the country.
While Kenya has done a lot in terms of medical management of HIV and AIDs unlike other African countries i.e HIV VCT (Voluntary Counselling and Testing) and ART (Anti-retroviral treatment) a lot still needs to be done to ensure all affected people are provided with quality care. One area that still needs to be addressed is social support and empowerment of both affected and infected individuals.Behavior Change Communication and Advocacy
- HIV/AIDS was discovered in Kenya in 1984 and was identified with sexual behavior and this called for change in human sexual behavior pattern.
- Demonstration and distribution of safer sexual gadgets such as male and female condoms.
- Designing prevention programs that specifically target vulnerable groups such as the youth and other marginalized segments of the society.
- Comprehensive management of opportunistic infections and other sexually transmitted diseases this being an entry point to prevention counseling.
Fighting HIV/AIDS related stigma and discrimination in the slum and villages in Ngong. Stigma and discrimination are a result of sheer ignorance, which comes because people don’t have comprehensive information on HIV/AIDS or care towards other persons in distress. These are therefore some of the biggest obstacles to comprehensive care and support for the infected and affected in our low income living places. Stigmatized persons may deliberately infect others in anger, may refuse to seek treatment for opportunistic infections and may starve as a result of loss of appetite. In order to reduce or eliminate stigma and discrimination we do the following:
- Intensify comprehensive HIV/AIDS awareness to all sectors.
- Intesify advocacy.
- Demystify HIV/AIDS by encouraging people living with HIV to talk for themselves and advocate for grater understanding by the society.
- Design, develop and disseminate materials fighting stigma and discrimination e.g. roadside bill boards, newspaper advertisement etc.