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Workers urged to go for HIV testing 

The  FKE  Coast Regional Manager, Salim Mwawaza (centre)  with Nelson Atinga of Mombasa Hospital (left) and William Wandera, FKE project officer at the Mombasa Hospital on Friday November 10, 2017  when  they launched a medical camp for HIV testing and counseling for employees. Photo  by  Hussein Abdullahi/KNA.

The  Federation of Kenya Employers (FKE), Coast region has embarked on a programme to encourage workers to go for HIV testing ahead of the World Aids Day on December 1.

FKE has partnered with Mombasa Hospital to conduct a health camp and carryout awareness and testing for HIV/AIDS to reduce vulnerability among workers and their families.

The FKE Regional Manager, Salim Mwawaza  said they were pushing for employees to know their status and employers to know how to handle the infected and affected.

He said the idea is to encourage workers to know their HIV status and if found positive allow their employers to put them on life prolonging treatment early enough.

‘In the countdown to the World Aids Day we would be facilitating workers to get treatment, medication and counseling from Mombasa Hospital,’ he said.

Mwawaza noted with appreciation that cases of stigma and discrimination among those suffering from the pandemic has gone down at the workplace.

‘We have made numerous efforts to educate employers that those who are HIV positive can continue to be productive members of the workforce,’ he said.

He  went on ‘the most important thing for us at FKE is to ensure that people living with HIV are not discriminated against in the workplace’.

The  FKE Project  Officer, William  Wandera said people living with HIV are legally protected from discrimination in the workplace and during recruitment and warned employers against violations.

Wilson  Atinga, a Mombasa Hospital representative  said through the partnership they will be providing free HIV testing and counseling.

‘The testing and counseling are being done on a voluntary basis in line with the global standards and medical ethics on HIV testing,’ he said.

He added ‘we are also spreading the message that HIV is not a death sentence and that there exist life saving-treatments provided they are started early enough’.

Atinga said according to 2016 statistics the number of people living with HIV was 1.6 million adding that over the years significant decline in HIV prevalence has been realized. He attributed this in part to notable behavioral change and increased access to ART (Antiretroviral drugs).

By  Silvia  Njagi/Hussein  Abdullahi

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