Sensitization still vital in war against HIV/AIDS
Ever since the first case of HIV/AIDS was reported in the country in 1984, the killer disease has claimed many lives, made orphans and widows, and divided families.
The discovery of Anti-Retroviral medication has, undoubtedly, been game-changing but as the World marks World AIDS day on Wednesday, cases of AIDS in the country, are on an upward trajectory and forecasted to increase even further.
According to Nakuru County CEC Health Dr. Gichuhi Kariuki, new HIV infections in the country can be reduced if proper knowledge on the matter is afforded to all citizens at both the national and county government levels.
“Our biggest problem is sensitization, especially our young girls. On reproductive health matters and issues to do with HIV transmission and also gender-based violence to everyone who is in society and we would want to look at the national policy and insist that we create more awareness,” Kariuki said in a panel interview on Citizen TV’s News night show.
With Nakuru County set to be the official grounds where World AIDS day will be marked in Kenya, the CEC argues that most people are unaware of the drivers that lead many to get infected with HIV and it is imperative for the country to sensitize its citizens properly in order to combat the disease.
“We should look at some of the major drivers especially what was said like poverty. Around that teenage age is good, especially for girls,” he said.
Kariuki also argues that sensitization will help reduce stigmatization of infected persons which is still being witnessed in parts of Kenya despite the age we live in.
Viona Juma, a single mother, grew up in abject poverty. Her parents died when she was barely of age and she was left in the care of her aging grandmother who could barely fend for herself.
At the tender age of seventeen, she became pregnant but the child’s sire abandoned the two, never to be seen again.
As luck would have it, Viola would, later on, meet a more responsible young man, who was willing to provide for her and her child and things started to look up for the first time in her life.
Misfortune however sprung its ugly head and her partner passed away suddenly, leaving her in her initial predicament. With mouths to feed and no other option left, Viola was forced to become a sex worker and it is in this line of work that she contracted HIV.
Speaking as part of the panel, Viona expressed how she couldn’t recall how she actually contracted the disease.
A lack of sensitization and her social status, she says, contributed greatly to her contracting the disease.
She is confident that the knowledge on sexual health and reproduction could have helped her in her earlier years.