This is a news release from the Kenyan HIV Positive Women's Network.
HAVE WE STOPPED TO THINK OF WHAT COULD BE HAPPENING TO PEOPLE LIVING WITH HIV, ESPECIALLY WOMEN AND CHILDREN LIVING WITH THE HIV VIRUS?
We speak on Behalf of the people who are infected and affected by HIV/AIDS in Kenya. Much has been said and generalized concerning the deteriorating situation in the country and we appreciate the calm which is slowly creeping in after 2 (two) weeks of violence, looting and merciless killings. As much as we would like to thank Kenyans who have heeded calls for peace by various religious, political, civil society organizations, Ambassadors of peace, individuals of good will, the international community etc, we still feel that so much more needs to be done.
We the people living with HIV/AIDS in Kenya are deeply concerned by the current political impasse resulting from the disputed general elections held on the 27th of December 2007. We have witnessed violence and all sorts of unjust and inhumane behavior in most parts of this country for a number of days. The aftermath of these actions are just beginning to light up so far over 300,000 people are said to be homeless and about 487 people dead. How many of the homeless are HIV/AIDS positive and how many of the same group of persons would be dead by now is something we don’t want to imagine.
From information gotten from Women Fighting AIDS in Kenya (WOFAK) they have not heard from over 1500 of its members who receive support from them and some few others have called to say that they are stranded to an extent that they have no access to their life saving drugs (ARV’S). Kenya Network of Women Living with HIV/AIDS (KENWA) is reporting over 2000 of its members while Kenya Network of Positive Teachers (KEPOTE) is reporting 12 persons who are stranded and in need of help. In Kenya we have several other organizations offering care, support and treatment to persons living with HIV/AIDS and we are sure if we went by figures the number would be quite alarming. Most of these women who are affected from this organizations also happen to be members of the International Community of Women living with HIV/AIDS (ICW), and that is why we are mostly concerned about the fate of the PLHIV especially women who most often than not are faced with the heavy burden of looking after their children, stigma and discrimination and the accusation of having brought the virus into the families/communities, sadly enough right now RAPE cases are on the rampage.
We know that a number of them have lost their life prolonging medicines (ARV’S) during the skirmishes in a hurry to run to safety, and to save the lives of their children. Ironically, their lives may still be in danger if they don’t get any interventions soon, as there are a lot of side effects likely to be experienced with defaulting medicines or failure to proper adherence. What about those who might have been bed-ridden at the time of the skirmishes, the support organizations can not continue with their activities for instance Home Based Care, DOT etc as most of these places were closed down due to insecurity, we wonder if such people were evacuated to safety, and as much as we appreciate the efforts the government is putting to assist its citizens we are concerned that as much as they may be put in these camps, they may not be accessing the due medical attention and nutrition required by them. We all know that HIV Positive women and children especially those on medication need to have a very good diet to be able to counter the risk of opportunistic infections. The rescue sites due to the magnitude number of people they are serving may not be able to give these people specialized treatment, and due to the great impact of stigma and discrimination for persons living with HIV/AIDS no one would openly want to admit the fact that they are HIV+ and hence need specialized treatment.
We know and acknowledge the efforts that has been made by our government, NGO’S, FBO’S, CSO’S etc in cubing down the spread and transmission of HIV/AIDS and where once was HOPE and EXPECTATIONS too high, now lies suspicion perhaps too deep for anyone to stomach. The air in the HIV/AIDS community is so thick with fear, anxiety and great worry of which exactly would be the most fatal, HIV/AIDS or the violence that has robed us the choice to adhere to treatment, care and support, Nutrition and positive living.
- We urge our leaders to stop playing politics instead of dealing with the problems of Kenyan people, they should seek for reconciliation
- We call for peace, Love and unity from all our brothers and sisters in the country; we used to co-exist before the elections, what went wrong?
- The Government should create modalities in the rescue sites where PLHIV’S, especially women living with HIV/AIDS and their children can access medication a temporary intervention plan before they resume their hospital visits (a formation of tents at the red cross sites with qualified personnel)
- We also ask the Government to speed up resettlement of displaced persons, by helping them rebuild their homes, offering 24hrs security and providing transport to ease the movement of people from one place to another.
- Our humble appeal is to our sisters, brothers and children living with HIV/AIDS to try and avoid unnecessary stress, to adhere to treatment and try as much as possible to make use of what ever distribution of food that is available to them and to freely seek for help when it is made available to them without fear of being discriminated for we are bonded by only one thing, “ OUR HIV STATUS”
- That the Government, NGO’S, FBO’S, CSO’S , etc offer Financial, Material and Human support be given to organizations working with PLHIV’S to assist in evacuation, creation of rescue centers and care, support and treatment needed by PLHIV’S especially Women and Children living with the virus.
- That Post-Election education, Information and Communication including psycho-social support and counseling be offered to PLHIV’S, especially women.