Meet the courageous teenage champions for HIV-positive youth
1 weeks ago, 09:26
It is now 34 years since the first case of HIV was reported in Kenya, in 1984.
The disease shook this country to the core, and even as efforts to bring it under control rolled in, it was running a bit too fast for us – in 1999, President Daniel arap Moi declared HIV a national disaster.
Enter advances in research and today, in 2018, we are at a better place as a country in taming HIV: from the scare that it was about three decades ago to a manageable condition which, on many fronts, has been conquered.
This week, myNetwork re-looks at HIV mainly through the eyes of young people who were born with the virus and have overcome the challenges that accompany it and are living positively.
CELINE MBOYA, 19,
Joins Egerton University in January next year to study Commerce
Celine comes from a small village in Rachuonyo North sub-County in Homa Bay County.
When she was about to sit for her Kenya Certificate of Primary Education exams in 2013, she was tested for HIV after she fell ill. She would later learn that she was found to be positive but her mother and the clinician kept the news from her.
“I remember asking my mum why she did not allow me to extend evening prep like other candidates: I usually left school at 5.30pm, not 6pm like other students. She explained that since I had tuberculosis (TB), I had to go home early so that I could take my medicine in time,” says Celine.
Lack of full disclosure, she acknowledges, is a major contributing factor to low uptake of HIV antiretroviral treatment, counselling services, as well as enrolment in psychosocial support groups among young people.
“Full disclosure for me happened when I was 14 years, about to join secondary school. My mother took me to a hospital where a clinician explained to me that I was born positive. I felt like that was the end of my life. I was also very angry at my mother and even refused to eat for two days.”
Fortunately, Celine managed to overcome her despair, hopelessness and stigma to become a courageous and vocal adolescent champion for young people living with HIV/Aids.
Last year, after completing secondary school, Celine volunteered as an ambassador for change (adolescent lead) at Miriu Health Centre in Homa Bay County, the facility where she has been a client. She felt it was important to help fellow adolescents come to terms with their status.
For one to qualify for this role, one must have shown strong leadership skills, perform well in school, and have succeeded in suppressing the virus, a sign of strict adherence to treatment, says Dr Anne Mwangi, EGPAF’s project manager for Accelerating Children’s Care and Treatment (ACT) Adolescent Project. This project recruits and trains young people like Celine to become adolescent champions. The candidates must also be willing to disclose their HIV status to their peers and also have time to visit defaulters and ...
Category: topnews news lifestyle