This project will help: 53,100 individuals
Estimated completion date: October 2022
Since the first cases of HIV were reported more than 35 years ago, 78 million people have become infected with HIV and 35 million have died from AIDS-related illnesses. UNAIDS 90–90–90 targets envisioned that by 2020 90 per cent of people living with HIV would know their HIV status, 90 per cent of people who know their HIV-positive status would access treatment and 90 per cent of people on treatment will have suppressed viral loads.
The situation in Kenya is far from the UNAIDS 2020 vision. Of the adults aged 15 years and older living with HIV in Kenya, only 69 per cent were on treatment, while a mere 61 per cent of children aged 0 to 14 years living with HIV receive treatment. Approximately 89 per cent of people living with HIV in Kenya know their status. However, among people living in nomadic pastoral communities, as few as 40 per cent know whether they have HIV or not.
According to The New Humanitarian, the prevalence of HIV infection among pastoral communities is generally twice the national average as estimated by UNAIDS. Reasons for this vary, including low education and low access to information due to their nomadic culture. Cultural factors such as polygamy and wife inheritance also increase the prevalence of HIV infection. In addition, men regularly leave their homes to find grazing for their livestock. HIV spreads when the men acquire new sex partners while away from their families. Condom use is low among these communities because it creates suspicion about HIV status.
Pastoralists in Kenya generally don’t prioritize discovering their HIV status because they have more pressing concerns, including a lack of food and water. The stigma of having HIV often keeps people from taking precautions to prevent HIV infection, getting tested and seeking treatment for HIV. In addition, it is difficult for men with HIV in pastoral communities to attend medical appointments and pick up medication because they must travel to graze their cattle.
Compassion Kenya believes concerted efforts at the community level can increase HIV awareness, reduce stigma, increase testing and ensure that more HIV-positive people in pastoral communities access vital treatment. This intervention will reach 53,100 people among the four most affected pastoral areas in Kenya: Baringo, Kajiado, Migori-Narok and Kilifi-Ganze-Kaloleni.
Did you know?
According to the 2020 UNAIDS status report on Kenya 1,400,000 adults and children were living with HIV. In 2020, 19,000 people died of AIDS-related illnesses in Kenya and there were 690,000 orphans due to AIDS.
One of the major threats to addressing the full scope of Compassion Kenya’s health strategy is negative stigma related to health issues resulting from misinformation or lack of information. The first case of HIV was reported in Kenya in 1984, but there are still misconceptions and outdated beliefs about how the virus is transmitted and judgements about the people who have it. Many people think of HIV as a disease that only certain groups get, with some pastors fanning the belief that HIV is the deserved result of sin. Despite the availability of proven treatment for people living with HIV, only 40 per cent of Kenyans living in nomadic pastoralist communities know their HIV status and even fewer receive treatment. Sadly, significant cultural barriers as well as negative stigma prevent members of pastoral communities from receiving treatment that could enhance their lives and reduce the spread of HIV.
The negative stigma of having HIV can lead to loss of family support, being shamed and blamed and loss of self-esteem. It can also result in the loss of livelihood as people avoid market stalls for fear of contracting the virus through touch. Children living with HIV or children who are orphaned due to HIV may be segregated, neglected or punished more harshly than others in the family. They may also miss out on education and other opportunities. Because of this negative stigma, many individuals prefer not to know their HIV status or they keep it secret for fear of what disclosure could bring, allowing the virus to continue being passed on.
Through education and targeted action, Compassion Kenya and 59 frontline church partners working within the four pastoral areas will reduce discrimination against people living with HIV and empower them to access treatment. Frontline church partners will achieve these objectives through focus group discussions among people living with HIV and beneficiary families connected with Compassion centres. Centre staff will also share posters and other print media with non-stigmatizing messages about HIV at Compassion centres and among their contacts.
Voluntary counselling and testing services will be provided in partnership with local health institutions, and individuals will be linked with treatment and care. Church partners will also mobilize peer support for and by people living with HIV to promote health, acceptance, well-being and human rights. Pastors and Christian leaders will draft position papers on inclusion and add non-discrimination clauses to their church and Compassion centre workplace policies.
Key opinion leaders and community leaders will be invited to join conversations that demystify HIV and explore preventive and treatment options that reduce the spread of the virus. Community leader forums will leverage local knowledge and help to develop home-grown solutions. These community-generated solutions will be adopted more easily and promote social change more effectively than recommendations from outside sources.
What your gift will do
Your gift will provide 53,100 adults and children in four pastoral communities with HIV education, including the following:
- Administering the Entry Berger HIV Stigma Scale Assessment for 53,100 people
- 2 sets of stigma reduction campaigns among 72 caregiver groups
- Community presentations with HIV experts to demystify HIV and reduce discrimination
- Volunteer counselling and testing in partnership with local health institutions
- Focus groups involving people living with HIV including families connected with Compassion centres
- 3-day training sessions for two centre staff per Compassion centre to become HIV education/stigma reduction champions
- Community leaders forum to discuss HIV stigma in the community and how to deal with it in Compassion centres
- Educational posters and print media with de-stigmatizing messages about HIV
- Assistance to pastors and frontline church partners to incorporate inclusion policies in the workplaces at their churches and Compassion centres
- Development of and connection to peer support that promotes health, acceptance and well-being for people living with HIV
- Administering the Exit Berger HIV Stigma Scale Assessment to 53,100 people
- Local contribution: US$2,954.20
- Handling of funds: Compassion Kenya will ensure this intervention remains within budget.
- Assessment: Before and after the intervention, the level of HIV stigma will be measured using the Berger HIV Stigma Scale.