A new home-based HIV testing and counseling program in Kibera is neutralizing the social stigma of being seen going into a clinic to be tested. The program builds on the idea that people will be more comfortable getting tested and receiving information about HIV/AIDS in the privacy of their homes.
KEMRI/CDC is a home-based counseling and HIV/AIDS testing group that has young men and women moving from door to door with an aim of educating youths, young men, and women on HIV/AIDS. As the rate of HIV/AIDS keeps on growing higher, it is said that 78 percent of couples in Kenya do not know their partner's HIV status. The result also indicates that seven percent of people aged sixteen to sixty-four years are infected with HIV/AIDS. I have been tested, and I am HIV negative. Do you know your status? KEMRI/CDC, a home-based HIV counseling group, is here for you. Have you been tested? According to statistics, 1.4 million adults in Kenya are living with HIV/AIDS, which also indicates that 56 percent have never been tested, while 28 percent think that they are not infected with HIV/AIDS. CDC is working hard to transform and educate youth in Kibera through a dummy, and also educating them on ways to protect themselves. It is also proven that the medical procedure of male circumcision reduces the risk of getting HIV/AIDS.
WOMAN [KEMRI/CDC Counselor]
When you use a condom with your partner, you will never doubt yourself on any infection, since you are using protection. We are also campaigning for voluntary male medical circumcision. It has been researched and proved that circumcised men have a reduced risk of contracting HIV by 60 percent.
According to them, a large number of young people find it hard to get tested, and have a negative perspective towards the outcome of the results. But through home visits, many of the youths are able to express their views freely, feeling more comfortable being at home than going to health centers for the test.
AMOS WANDERA [Student]
My name is Amos Wandera, I come from here in Kibera and right now I'm a student. Most of the time, initially, people always fear being seen going into a testing center, because their colleagues will believe that he doubts himself. But the initiative that the KEMRI people have taken to visit people in their houses gives more people the confidence to be tested because nobody will see you out going for HIV testing. You'll just be tested in your house, and there will not be any doubt at any particular time. It is confidential, not very public.
This is also another way of educating the whole family on HIV/AIDS matters, matters that many parents do not like to share with their children.
We are in another century, whereby we need to understand the reality about HIV/AIDS; we need to know our status so that we may live a good life. So being tested near your parents, near your wife, near your kid, it shows a positive picture of development in the developing world. Well, first of all, I was not tested when I was first going to be tested. I felt like I was scared, I really didn't want to make this particular move. But slowly, within my discussion with the counselor, I really gathered that confidence. And the last time, when she opened her kit, and I saw that it was only one line, which indicated that I'm negative, I felt like jumping up. I felt like I've been renewed, because I didn't trust that I was really negative. I always believe that everybody is positive unless proven negative. So that was the shoe I was in. But when I received that information I saw it myself that I was negative. It was like I was jumping from the seat I was sitting on, and said, "I've been born again. I'm new, I'm clean." So I was so happy.
After going through the test, young girls, boys, men, and women, whether negative or positive, are educated on how to be faithful, having one partner, and also how to use protection. Wilfred Masea, reporting for KiberaTV, Nairobi.