KENYA: HIV/AIDS Prevention, Treatment, and Care
Addressing the HIV/AIDS epidemic is a major priority for HealthRight International’s work in Kenya. In the rural and impoverished districts of Kenya’s Northern Rift Valley, tens of thousands of people are living with HIV. Before HealthRight’s arrival in 2005, there were few places in the region for HIV-positive individuals to turn for health services and support.
Our work in the region is in partnership with the successful Academic Model for Prevention and Treatment of HIV/AIDS (AMPATH) developed by Indiana University and Moi University in Eldoret, Kenya. HealthRight adapted this model to a rural setting and has recently extended the project into two new districts. This expansion has been made possible by generous support from Family Health International and the AIDS, Population and Health Integrated Assistance II (APHIA II) project funded from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
Beyond testing and treatment of HIV, the project addresses related issues like nutrition, psychosocial support, and stigma within the community. HealthRight has helped hundreds of HIV-positive individuals, more than two-thirds of them women, access treatment and care.
Prevention, treatment, and care
In 2005, HealthRight constructed an HIV/AIDS treatment clinic at the Kapenguria District Hospital, to provide vital services to the region. Trainings for local health workers and community members on a range of subjects have helped to build local capacity to respond to the crisis. HealthRight has also established semi-mobile clinics to travel to five rural health centers across the large district, expanding the reach and impact of the HIV treatment program. In 2008, three more comprehensive HIV care centers have been opened to serve HIV-positive clients in two more districts. In 2009, HealthRight will extend the successful project model again into another two underserved districts in Kenya’s Northern Rift Valley.
To ensure the well-being of patients and their families, HealthRight has established support groups and counseling services. HealthRight social workers also make home visits to patients having trouble coping with the challenges of living with HIV and make referrals for other social services. A nutritional support program offers food supplements and teaches people about healthy diets and effective agricultural techniques.
Community mobilization and stigma reduction
In collaboration with staff from the Kenyan Ministry of Health, HealthRight works to increase awareness of HIV through community gatherings, known as barazas. Religious and community leaders, local chiefs, and community-based organizations all attend these meetings and help to bring information to an even larger audience. The open forum helps reduce stigma surrounding the disease, and HIV testing is available at the gatherings. In 2008, nearly 5,000 Kenyans were tested for HIV through the project.