The Public Health department of the Kenyatta University Teaching, Referral & Research Hospital hosted the World Aids Day 2020 under the theme; Global Solidarity, Shared Responsibility. The event was attended by the Hospital Staff, medical social workers and counsellors, community health volunteers, nutritionists, and community members living next to the hospital.
Speaking during the event, the Head of Department for Public Health, Mr. Felix Karani, noted that this years’ World AIDS Day is a unique one because of Covid 19. The risk of developing severe Covid 19 for an infected person is evolving. The more at risk, are people with HIV but not on treatment or virally suppressed. Further, Mr. Karani called for increased awareness for increased response to end the epidemic.
The community around the hospital has been of great support. This was noted by Ms Rose Nteere Senior Counsellor/Community Liaison, who called on the members present to reach out to people around them who might be experiencing mental health and drug abuse-related issues. The Chairman of the Community, in response, noted that they are happy to partner with the hospital.
Further, the hospital has a Comprehensive Care Clinic at KUTRRH that provides clinical and psychological support through counselling, education on antiretroviral drugs, and consultation services. Speaking during the event, Dr. Gladys Mwakio also noted the recent invention of self-test, available to the public on request. The self-test tool has been developed to allow people to know their HIV Status at their discretion.
During the event, the plight of People Living with HIV/AIDS was explored. It was an emotional moment on hearing encounters of members who had successfully braved the stigma attached to the disease and come out strong. They were quick to implore the teens and young adults to take precaution as they the age groups with the majority of new infections.
Drug abuse has been viewed as the use of certain chemicals to create a pleasurable effect on the brain. Ms Rachael Migwi noted that the use of drugs contributes to the risk of getting or transmitting the disease. This is because drugs affect the brain, alters judgment, and lowers one’s inhibitions. The National Institute on Drug abuse posits that nearly one-quarter of AIDS cases stem from intravenous drug use, and one in four people living with HIV/AIDS from 2005 to 2009 reported the use of alcohol or drugs to the extent that required treatment.
Drug abuse not only contributes to HIV/AIDS infections but also the growing cases of road accidents. To this end, the hospital management in collaboration with the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) has instituted the Road Safety Committee to sensitize the public on the need for observance of road safety measures. The Secretary to the committee, Mr. Patrick Thiong’o, reminded the people attending that road accidents kill more than Tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and Malaria. Since pedestrians account for 39% of the over 3,000 deaths reported every year, Mr. Thiong’o urged everyone to be careful.
The event culminated with a sensitization on Infection Prevention & Control (IPC). The team at IPC reminded the people on the importance of hand hygiene and the proper use of condoms to control both infections by Covid 19 and HIV/AIDS.
Article by: Francis Wachira – Communications Officer