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Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Take HIV test, locals urged

By James Maina and Macharia Benjamin

World AIDS day is normally cerebrated on December 1 every year so as to create awareness on HIV/AIDS. This year’s theme is ‘getting to zero: zero new HIV infections; zero AIDS related deaths: zero discrimination.’

According to a survey carried out by Laikipia Rural Voices within Sipili township, two to three people out of about 100 who are tested every month at a local health facility, are found to be HIV positive.
“The number of the people confirmed to be HIV positive for the past one year has declined in comparison with the previous years.” says George Mbugua, a medic at a health facility at Sipili market.
Mbugua says HIV/AIDS awareness is increasing with more and more people visiting voluntary counseling and testing centers.

However, despite the services being offered free of charge and in a friendly manner, many youths still do not know their HIV status due to either ignorance or fear of the outcome.
Mbugua said more women than men were seeking VCT services and attributed this to the mandatory test they have to take during prenatal care. 

“Whenever an expectant woman is found to be HIV positive, special treatment is normally administered to prevent the unborn baby from being infected,” he said while urging all expectant mothers to take the crucial test.

In the education sector, teachers, parents and learners are also affected by the pandemic. The learners find themselves dropping out of school to offer care to their ailing relatives.
Parents whose children are infected have to undertake the heavy duty of taking care of them.
The ministry of education has greatly campaigned against stigmatization of HIV positive pupils and students by encouraging the formation of health clubs where education on how to prevent and how to live with the disease is taught in details.

“In my school for example, HIV/AIDS infected pupils are protected from any stigmatization or discrimination by either teachers or fellow pupils,” says Mr. Billy Karomo, the head teacher Sipili primary school.

Like other parts of the country, the disease has also negatively affected Ng’arua area economically by claiming the lives of productive people who would have contributed greatly in the development of the area.
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