Governor urges residents to know their HIV status

World Aids Day celebrations in Lodwar. PHOTO: CYNTHIA ASEKON

World Aids Day celebrations in Lodwar. PHOTO: CYNTHIA ASEKON

As the world marked AIDS day on December 1 and Kenya marked 30 years of the national response, residents of Turkana County were called upon by leaders to know their status and protect themselves.
This follows reports of a big number of people living with the disease unknowingly. At the end of 2013, there were 44,736 people infected with HIV of which 13 per cent are children. The HIV prevalence among women in Turkana County is 10.8 per cent , which is higher than men of 6.5 per cent . The Governor in his speech called on expectant mothers to embrace supervised delivery in health facilities. “Health providers must build trust and confidence by providing high quality services to all mothers at all service delivery areas,” Nanok advised.

When a survey was conducted, about 835 pregnant women were living with HIV and hence were likely to transmit to their unborn children the disease through delivery, breast-feeding or pregnancy. Nanok also added that elimination of mother to child transmission services has been increased and applauded the First Lady
Margaret Kenyatta for the Beyond Zero initiative whose goal is to mobilize and provide leadership towards zero new HIV infections and reduce the number of deaths among women and children in Kenya.

The Minister of health and sanitation Jane Ajele said according to The Gap Report from UNAIDS, 1.5 million people worldwide died of AIDS-related illness in 2013. By the end of 2013, an estimated 35 million people around the world were living with HIV. The 2013 Kenya Counties HIV profile reports estimated the overall HIV prevalence for Turkana at 7.6 per cent, a total of 44,736 persons were living with HIV and an estimated 3,141 new annual HIV infection occurred in 2013. The report further indicated 2,226 adults and 311 children died of HIV-related conditions in Turkana County. “My ministry in collaboration with HIV partners is committed to reverse the trend through implementation of multi-pronged prevention approaches, which include; male and female condom promotion and distribution, HIV testing and counseling, voluntary medical male circumcision and elimination of motherclinic brought by First Lady Margaret Kenyatta and flagged off by the wife of the Turkana county governor,”Ajele added.
He said the ministry is running programmes that target reduction of HIV transmission among most risk population such as sex workers, fisher folks, prisoners OVCs and young people. There is also HIV care and treatment with 5,500 clients actively taking ART in 35 sites.
The minister appealed to sex workers to use condoms and the public to embrace voluntary counseling and testing to know their status. Ajele cautioned schoolgirls to refrain from indecent dressing in search of men in towns.

Turkana Central MP, Hon. John Lodepe called for youth sensitization on HIV/AIDs and advised the public to speak the truth when one dies of the disease. Lodepe also cautioned against the cultural practice of widow inheritance as well as old women who havem sex with young men.
“Wife inheritance should be a thing of the past and old women who work with NGOs or big companies should stop marrying young men as you subject them to forced labour due to your weighty pockets,”Lodepe cautioned.

The MP added that the public should be aware that the constitution gives equal rights to those affected and those who are not and no person should be denied a job due to his/her HIV status or be segregated.
Lodepe urged the county government and NGOs that provide relief food to ensure they set some food aside for the affected people as taking strong medicine without food is difficult. The county director of HIV Mr. Samuel Pulkol urged the public to stop discriminating the HIV patients and go to VCTs to determine their status. to-child transmission of HIV via mobile

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