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Stigma cited as major challenge in the fight against HIV/AIDS

The County Executive Committee Member for Health, Jane Ajele has cited stigma as a major challenge in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Photo by KNA.

The County Executive Committee Member for Health, Jane Ajele has cited stigma as a major challenge in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Speaking  during the World Aids Day at Nadapal, Loima Sub County, Ajele said stigma has caused many people to shy away from going for HIV testing.

“Other people who are infected by HIV are refusing to take anti-retroviral drugs due to stigma,” said Ajele.

Ajele added that in extreme cases some patients with other ailments like malaria or diabetes have been branded as HIV/AIDS victims.

The current prevalence rate in the county is 3.2 percent marking a significant decline from 7.6 percent in 2011, according to National Aids Control Council County Coordinator Bernard Mwaura.

At the same time, Mwaura urged parents to be responsible and ensure they know the whereabouts of their children during the holidays.

“Parents should be cautious and careful to ensure that their children do not lie to them that they are visiting relatives yet they are living with other people who might exploit them sexually,” said Mwaura echoing earlier sentiments by Ajele.

Ampath (a partnership between Moi University, Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital, North American universities led by Indiana University, and the Kenyan Government) county representative, Michael Kibiwot said HIV/AIDS is preventable and emphasized the need for those infected to take anti-retroviral drugs.

Ampath have been offering psycho social support, including provision of Sh.3,000 monthly to persons living with HIV.

The  NHIF representative, Evans Mosonik, cited the importance of NHIF cover in fighting opportunistic infections.

“Instead of organizing funds drives to pay medical bills, NHIF cover would solve such problems, including cover for surgeries,” said Mosonik.

Ajele also supported the planned mass registration drive for NHIF, saying it would also save leaders the burden of having to shoulder hospital bills for their constituents.

“If you sold a goat and paid Sh.500 monthly which is Sh.6,000 annually as NHIF cover, you would not need to appeal for medical bills support every time you fell ill,” she said.

By  Peter  Gitonga

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