In the noisy and dusty goldmines of Masara in Suna West Sub-County, Migori County, our team of health care providers make their way to a local liquor (chang’aa) den infested with middle-aged and teenage men reveling in broad daylight oblivious of the dangers they pose themselves to given that Covid-19 still poses a threat to humanity.
When they spot us carrying boxes of condoms, they jump in a celebratory mood and give us a deserved reception. They are certain that help has arrived. They open up on how clandestine sexual encounters are rampant in the small town famously referred to as ‘the golden city’ and they attribute this to the high cash flow in the town as a result of gold mining which by far is the main economic activity in this ward.
Our officers initiate a conversation on HIV awareness, and preliminary observation is that there are myths and misconceptions on HIV spread and prevention. They however agree to gather and listen keenly as our health experts unpack the information associated with HIV prevention, debunking all myths and misconceptions that have always threatened the truth about HIV spread and prevention.
People who use/inject drugs the key population with a high rate of HIV infection in Kenya. LVCT Health has been targeting this population with HIV prevention services. Our team has been frequenting the ‘hotspots’ where they are able to reach this population using innovations that ensure that there is reduced stigma and discrimination, which has been identified as one of the key barriers in accessing HIV prevention and care services.
At the end of the full hour session, their reactions show it all. They have gained a lot of knowledge on matters HIV prevention, Care and treatment, and they assure
us that they will put it to immediate practice. Our staff also distribute 10 boxes of condoms after training them on how to use them correctly and encourage them to be ambassadors for safe sex in the community.
The residents also benefited from voluntary and free HIV testing services that our health care providers offered.
LVCT Health has for the last five years been implementing the STEPS project in the Western part of Kenya. The project aims to reach the most vulnerable population with HIV prevention services and encourage those at risk to live a healthy life.
By Collins Kayubs