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Kenya to mark 26th anniversary of finding first case of HIV/AIDS

11-30-2011 16:16 BJT Special Report:World AIDS Day 2011 |

by Ejidiah Wangui

NAIROBI, Nov. 26 (Xinhua) -- Kenya will mark the 26th anniversary of finding the first case of HIV/AIDS in the East African country as the world is bracing for the world AIDS day on Dec. 1.

Kenya is one of the countries in sub-Saharan Africa where the prevalence rate has been going up despite concerted efforts to lower the virus transmission.

Of much concern is the rate at which the transmission is spreading among the married who form the bigger percentage of those infected.

But as the country seeks to join the whole world in marking the day by remembering those who have succumbed to the virus and encouraging those living with it, it seems the fight is far from over.

With mixed reactions surrounding the invention of Aids cure and access to Antiretroviral drugs (ARVs), most Kenyans think the government has not done enough to control the virus spread and on the other hand enhancing easy access to ARVs for thousands in need.

With four days to the fete, Xinhua talked to several Kenyans over the country's progress in the war against HIV/AIDS and what they would want done for the country to record a tremendous decline in statistics.

According to Felista Mbithe, a volunteer at a non-governmental organization spearheading reproductive health campaigns in Dandora slum in Nairobi, a lot needs to be done for the country to feature in the list of countries where the virus has been kept at bay in terms of new infections.

The organization, she says, has embarked on an aggressive campaign to educate young girls on matters of reproductive health with HIV/AIDS featuring prominently in their agenda as the prevalence still remains very high among the youth residing in slums.

Felista explained to Xinhua that lack of awareness remains the biggest challenge especially in slums where people and especially the youth are not well informed on health matters.

"It is very sad that after all these years we still have to deal with matters that should have been dealt with a long time ago, awareness should be the government's priority and we cannot win this fight without informing the youth," Felista noted.

Joyce Mwihaki, living with HIV/AIDS says it has not been a smooth sailing for people like her who have to be permanently on drugs.

Access to ARVs, she laments has been her greatest fear five years after she tested positive.

"Every day of my life I have to think of what tomorrow has in store for people like me, and with children to raise we always hope that maybe even a cure would come along and save our lives."

She is among many other Kenyans living with HIV/AIDS who feel that current access to ARVs is still far below the world standards. For instance, she says, those living in rural areas are sometimes forced to travel long distances to fetch drugs from clinics or hospitals in urban areas where they are readily available.

George Muniu, a youth leader in Huruma however has a different feeling. Having worked with the youth for a long time, he says the government has done its part on awareness creation and what remains is for the youth to play their role by living a responsible life.

"I personally feel that the youth have the solution and can play a major role in lowering prevalence rates in the country, compared to yester years, debates over HIV/AIDS are held openly and people are aware of what is good and bad," noted Muniu.

Notably, stigmatization has also been singled out as a limitation in the fight. Even though efforts have been made to ensure those infected and affected with AIDS leave a comfortable life, there are areas where the vice is deeply rooted. Kenyans have called on the government to enhance universal access as the world marks yet another milestone in the fight against AIDS.

Editor:Zhang Hao |Source: Xinhua

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