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Kenya Launching Door-to-Door HIV Testing Campaign

Director of Medical Services Nicholas Muraguri

The voluntary program hopes to combat stigma and encourage more Kenyans to know their status and seek treatment if positive.

The Star reports that the African country’s ministry of health has said the program will initially focus on geographic locations with high HIV rates, including Nairobi and Homa Bay.

Currently six percent of the population has HIV, but nearly half of the citizens still don’t know their HIV status.  Speaking at the launch of Kenya’s Guidelines of the National Plan for Accelerating HIV Care and Treatment, Director of Medical Services, Nicholas Muraguri, cited stigma, saying the “majority of Kenyans don’t go for testing because if they test positive, people would not want to associate with them.”

The campaign hopes to not only encourage HIV testing by going door-to-door but will also reportedly target churches, shopping centers, and sporting events to publicize the need for HIV testing.

The country is in the process of adopting the World Health Organization’s new guidelines that recommend HIV treatment for all who test positive, regardless of their CD4 count. Up to know, Kenya has only been treating those with HIV who had a CD4 count of less than 500. Their testing has nearly doubled since 2009, and they hope to continue reaching poz people with this new campaign.

Muraguri said that of the 80,000 HIV-positive children in the country, currently only half are on treatment. In a country where AIDS-related illnesses still kills tens of thousands of children every year, those numbers are “shameful,” Muraguri said. “If they don’t get treatment early enough, half of them die before they turn two years and another 80 percent die before their fifth birthday.”

He says that adults who have tested positive are are being treated with antiretrovirals but the same isn't true for the country's kids. Approximately 850,000 adults are on treatment in Kenya.

“What is shameful is that we have literally treated every adult but the children are not getting treatment,” Muraguri added.

As Kenya implements the WHO guidelines over the next two years, the country will also begin offering self-testing kits (with how-to instructions), for those who fear going to public health facilities to get tested.



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