Aids awarenes on Kenyan youth still low

EVANS KANINI By EVANS KANINI, 28th Mar 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/73vja9lr/
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Columns & Opinions

Full-scale efforts needed to contain the scourge that threatens to decimate mankind.

War

Efforts to increase awareness on the dreaded Aids pandemic among Kenyan youth have yielded little fruits, even as the government intensifies its war against the disease in this East African country.

Victims of HIV/AIDS, especially the school-going age, are often subjected to stigmatization by colleagues in school, and the society at large which calls for the need to launch full-scale measures against the malady.

Guidance and counseling control in schools has been regarded apathetically and the trend has persisted.

As a result, majority of the victims end up succumbing to challenges emanating from having to endure isolation which, unfortunately, has resulted in many of them committing suicide, owing to frustration.

Painful tale

Charity Muthoni, 23, from Nairobi, is one such example who has lived to narrate her painful tale of stigmatization from her colleagues.

“I was born with the Hiv virus and I have never known a better day”, she reveals.

Muthoni notes that since she got admitted to high school in Nairobi- Kenya's capital city back in 2007, life for her has never been the same again.

“I can’t tell who informed my colleagues about my condition as rumors spread all over my school like a bush fire,” she discloses.

Muthoni says that after sometime she noticed her fellow colleagues avoiding her company.

“I felt rejected and traumatized, especially after I figured out that it was not my mistake,” she says.

After great agony emanating from rejection, Muthoni decided to do unthinkable to escape from reality.

“At one point, I found myself getting immersed into excessive alcohol consumption to cope with the heightened level of stigma and discrimination in school”, she discloses.

But alcohol did not alter the situation.

Later, Muthoni was advised to seek advice from a qualified counselor which she did.

Since then, her perception towards life has changed, and now she worries less of what people talk about her.

“I no longer care what people talk about me. It is all my business, as I have suffered for long with no one to care for me,” she notes.

According to Muthoni, her mother who died of HIV/AIDS in the year 2000, did not inform her of her status, thus exposing her to stigma and trauma after she had come of age.

“Had my mother informed me of my condition before she died, I probably could not have undergone such suffering”, she says.

However, she observes that whatever happens is ascribed by fate and that God had a purpose for her life.

Today, Muthoni acts as a campaigner against stigma and discrimination in learning institutions, and at all levels.

“I’m appealing to the government to ensure the people facility access to HIV testing and counseling services by young people,” she urges.

She believes that for the country to realize its ambition it has to prioritize problems affecting young people.

“We are here as part of Kenya’s Future. You can no longer bury your heads in the sand and wish away children living with HIV/AIDS,” she notes.

Report

According to a report by US AID on Education Sector policy on HIV/AIDS in Kenya, 48 percent of young people aged between 15-24 years have turned positive, with twenty five thousand new infections being experienced every year.

Over half of Nairobi’s population live in areas characterized by high poverty, insecurity, poor health outcomes, substance abuse, and low levels of education.

According to US AID, out of 1.7 billion young people worldwide, 5.4 million are estimated to be living with the HIV virus, with 40 per cent of new infections.

This age group comprises the highest rates (over 500,000 infections daily), of sexually transmitted infections excluding HIV.

Tags

Aids, Aids Studies, Aids Victims

Meet the author

author avatar EVANS KANINI
Kenyan journalist writing on issues of education, health, environment, agriculture, water, democracy, human rights and governance.

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