Stigmatization against People Living With HIV/AIDS Challenge
Stigmatization against people living with HIV/ AIDS has posed a great challenge in winning the war against HIV/AIDS in Narok North and East Constituencies.
Speaking to KNA in his office on Friday, the area Aids Control Coordinator, Dominic Sankei said most of the new HIV infections and the numbers of deaths arising from HIV/AIDS complications are due to stigmatization.
He said majority of people tested and found to be HIV positive remain reclusive and do not even disclose their status to their sexual partners due to fear of being stigmatized.
“Stigma against people living with HIV/AIDS is a major challenge in the war against HIV in this area, as majority of people associate the disease with promiscuity,” said Sankei.
He lamented the low uptake of prevention measures such as condom use among the Maasai community.
“When we move around distributing free condoms to men, the Maasai men will not accept them or in case they pick one, they ensure no one sees them. This is unlike other communities living in Narok Town who come to request for condoms in my office,” he said.
Sankei added that the stigmatization has led to a majority of HIV/AIDS patients withdrawing from collecting medicine from the health facilities.
“Some HIV patients travel far distances to collect their medicines as they do not want their friends, families and neighbours to find out their status” he said.
He lamented that in some cases, the patients choose to visit traditional healers since they do not want to be seen anywhere near the health facility collecting medication.
However, Sankei revealed that his office was carrying out regular campaigns to sensitize people on the need to get tested and how to live positively even after testing HIV positive.
According to 2016 data, the prevalence rate of the disease was at 5.1 percent in the two constituencies.
Meanwhile, the Aids Coordinator has expressed fears the recent move by the United States of America (USA) to suspend funding to the Ministry of Health through the United State International Development agency (USAID).
He asked the government to look into the issue and immediately take action that could reverse the decision as it is a big blow to the sector which depends on USAID for funding.
Earlier this week, the U.S. Ambassador to Kenya, Robert Godec announced in Kisumu that his government had suspended aid to the government until graft allegations are investigated and the monies received accounted for.
He said the US would resume the funding once the ministry takes steps to improve its accounting procedures.
The donation included monies covering salaries and wages, operations, domestic and international travel as well as meetings and workshops.
But the Ministry of Health has assured Kenyans that during the suspension, HIV/AIDS activities, health security, family planning, and nutritional supplements would not be affected.
A 2016 financial audit revealed that $51.3 million had been lost at the ministry through corruption, that year alone.
By Ann Salaton