Shunned and Starved: Kenya’s HIV Victims

  • There is still a great stigma around the disease in Keyna. Many even refuse to even tests themselves for it. Photo: Jon Rawlinson

It may be the 2016 World Aids Day but most HIV/AIDS victims in Kenya cannot cope with the complications brought about by the disease due to lack of food. Many also face discrimination at work and home, which means many others shy away from voluntary HIV testing programmes offered by the state and non-governmental organizations in the East African country.

A report released by Kenya’s HIV and Aids Tribunal on Wednesday 30th November, 2016, showed that many Kenyans have been demoted, sacked or faced ill-treatment from their workmates, thanks to their HIV status. The report pointed out that 500,000 people in the country do not know their status, with the chief reason being stigma that comes with knowing one’s status.

It further stated that health care workers and employers are among those who breach the confidentiality rule by spreading gossips about the status of the HIV victims in a country where 1.6 million people are on Anti-retroviral drugs. Numerous patients on ARVs complain of lack of food as an impediment to regular intake of the drugs, key to boosting their health.

The country is hardly hit by acute food shortage as drought, low agricultural yields and poor planning by the state continue to bite. This means that only those employed can afford to buy food, whose prices continue to rise. Various international agencies like the World Food Programme, the World Vision and the International Federation of the Red Cross have stepped in to curb the food situation, but they are overwhelmed by the high number of victims in need of food aid.