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TVET students sensitized on HIV/AIDS

The National Empowerment Network for People Living with HIV/AIDS in Kenya (NEPHAK) has sensitized Technical Education and Vocational Training students’ leaders in West Pokot County about the effects of HIV/AIDS and ways they can prevent exposure and help educate themselves and young people.

Speaking to TVET students at a hotel at Makutano, in Kapenguria town, NEPHAK social worker Ms. Agnes Lagat said that there was a need for TVET college students to be sensitized for them to sensitize other youths in colleges and at home, family members, and the community at large on condom use and anti-stigma awareness.

Lagat explained that many psycho-social impacts of HIV/AIDS, such as stigma, worry, depression and hopelessness, have affected the studies and development of many youths, and there is a need to sensitize them.

She said in colleges, there are cases of students who are infected, cases of those infected infecting others without knowing, cases of students dropping out of college, and some who have died due to suspected HIV/AIDS-related cases.

Laat said that the youth need to be made aware of transmission mechanisms and risk reduction techniques.

“We have sensitized the TVET students on condom use, distribution, and anti-stigma, worry, depression and hopelessness mechanisms, and the key objective of sensitizing them is for them to help champion HIV/AIDS awareness and sensitization,” Lagat said.

She said, “The youths sensitized will take the messages of the effects of HIV/AIDS and the way they are able to prevent themselves from being infected, and they may take the information to reach all corners of the region on condom use and anti-stigma awareness.”

Lagat disclosed that West Pokot County has been responding positively to HIV testing services, but there is a need for more youths to be sensitized about the effects of HIV and how they can prevent themselves from being infected.

She said they have distributed condoms to the youth and positioned some in social places for use by those who want to engage in sexual intercourse. “Condoms, when well used during sexual intercourse, help prevent the spread of the HIV virus,” Lagat said.

“We have distributed condoms to youths, and we have placed some in social places, especially bars and restaurants, because in many of these social places there are possibilities of people getting excited after taking some drinks, with some of them getting an urge to have sexual intercourse with partners whose HIV status may not be known,” she added.

She encouraged youths to get tested for HIV/AIDS, as it is important for one to know his or her health on HIV/AIDS status.

Lagat urged youth to avoid multiple sex partners and encouraged them to have one partner or, if not, have one at a time. He observed that some who not careful end up having unwanted pregnancies were and also increase their risk of contracting HIV/AIDS.

She noted that most youth are sexually active, with a number of them having little or no information on sexuality. “Youth are the most vulnerable people, and sex excites them so much that some will want to have one partner while others prefer several of them,” she stated.

She urged other health care partners to come in and help create awareness that HIV/AIDS is both contractible and preventable.

The TVET HIV/AIDS master trainer, Ms. Lucy Gatiri, affirmed that by attaining condom use, condom distribution, and anti-stigma mechanisms by the youths, the community will be safer because the youths can be the community’s ambassadors in creating awareness.

“We are training the TVET students’ leaders to be the champions in top-notch demand for condom use and distribution and HIV testing services and offering them to become anti-stigma to help reduce HIV stigma in the community,” she explained.

She mentioned that the creation of HIV/AIDS awareness and sensitization programs and initiatives through social media platforms, for example, WhatsApp, Facebook, and Twitter accounts, has been so helpful in disseminating the information that has helped curb the spread of the pandemic in the county and country at large.

Gatiri stated that social media platforms, if properly used, are an important tool that allows the spread of messages that eliminate stigma among the affected people, in addition to how well the condom can be used for prevention of the HIV/AIDS virus.

Emanuel Kipsang, a trainee, requested the government to distribute more condoms for use in tertiary colleges, as there are many cases of youth who have been infected because they failed to get tested first before having intercourse and by not using condoms.

Amelia Cheyech, a student at Sigor vocational training center, said they paid no charges for the training and thanked the government and partners for organizing to educate them on how one gets infected with HIV/AIDS and pre-cautionary measures they could take to avoid contracting it.

She further said that the training has provided them with a platform on which, in their TVET colleges, they will be able to educate their colleagues, family members, and the community at large on the use of condoms and how stigma can be eliminated among the affected persons.

By Anthony Melly and Maurice Osore

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