Today the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) has become a pandemic disease that can be termed ‘a global crisis’. Since scientists discovered the Human Immuno Deficiency Virus (HIV) as the cause of AIDS in 1983, the disease has spread all over the globe proving to be the most complex health problem ever known. Today, the epidemic has undermined all aspects and sectors of the world’s societies and threatens to destroy economic, social and civil society development achievements attained over the years.
In various forums on HIV/AIDs epidemic around the world, it has been emphasized that HIV/AIDs awareness is a collective responsibility; and that it is not limited to health practitioners only. An effective response to the epidemic’s scourge demands committed, urgent and sustained action by all sectors of society.
It is based on this background that the Human Resource and Administration Department organized a week long Mobile VCT Services and sensitization on HIV/AIDS targeting the Nairobi Commuter Rail Service customers. The exercise which ran from February 27 to March 3, 2017 was facilitated by LVCT Health who are commonly referred to as Liverpool VCT, who pitched tents at Syokimau, Imara Daima, Makadara and Nairobi Central stations in order to reach out to the railway commuters.
Speaking to the KR Weekly desk, Ms. Eunice Chebet of LVCT Health stressed that HIV/AIDs is an extraordinary kind of crisis and its growth continues unabated. Despite increased funding, political commitments and progress in expanding access to HIV treatment, the AIDS epidemic continues to outpace every global effort to mitigate it. No region of the world has been spared as the epidemic has outsmarted various response measures and continues to manifest in new ways of transmission.
“AIDS has rendered many children orphans, many of whom were born with HIV infection. AIDS is killing the most productive people in the population and in the process depleting society of human resource which is vital in many ways. It is also taking toll on the health sector since a lot of funds are channeled towards HIV/AIDS prevention and control. It has been observed that despite the many programmes organized to inform people about the problem of HIV/AIDS, the rate of its infection continues to be on the increase,” she said.
Ms. Chebet pointed out that certain risky behaviors which include casual sex with multiple partners, prostitution, unprotected sex, drug abuse and commercial blood donation among others have been associated with high HIV infection rate. This is mainly because HIV is found in body fluids like blood, semen, vaginal discharge and breast milk of infected persons and thus is transferred from one infected person to another mostly through sexual intercourse and sharing of unsterilized instruments like blades, knives and syringes which have been used by infected persons.
She stressed that HIV testing should always be the first step to take when trying to find out a person’s status. Measures to prevent HIV/AIDS infection include total abstinence from sex, avoiding infections from unprotected sexual intercourse through use of condoms, screening of blood meant for transfusion, being faithful to one sexual partner, use of sterilized sharp object like blades, knives, needles / syringe and shaving instruments. Intending couples are also advised to do HIV/AIDS test before being joined in marriage.