|Source: Citizen News|
Might i wear my academic hat, I will offer the stats of the epidemic and stress how breaking this is for African countries, and especially in countries like mine. Might I wear a layman hat, I will offer a very plastic of what it means to be infected. But I am not sure how I will explain the affect.
But I choose to be myself in this case, I will tell as it is, what I know and what I don't know. I don't know how many Kenyans are still ignorant that HIV/AIDs does exist and it's important that we protect ourselves. I am shocked when I talk to some people to whom protection still sounds like a myth. To whom, visiting the VCT is still something for the promiscuous and the adulterous, not for them who are 'faithful' to their partners, and who 'look healthy'. It's such a pain that I still have not convinced them that this is not a measure of being HIV free.
What I remember today is the cost of this epidemic. As an affected Kenyan, having lost friends and family to AIDs, and having given part of my life, my heart and resources to caring for the affected victims of AIDs, I know partially of the cost. It has cost be a lot of happiness and laughter that I would have otherwise have had with the friends and family I have lost. It has costed the beauty of family, the many meals and company I would have shared with these dear ones.
It has cost me an everlasting pain of watching those orphaned grow up in the pain of loosing their loved ones. Sometimes regretting, other times just getting confused if things would have been worse than they currently are. The pain of seeing the dependents struggle through life after the breadwinners have departed.
But the most costly has been the future cost of all this. When I see the young who are positive, watching them grow everyday. Watching them attempt everyday positively. Watching them visit the doctor every month, for their regular check-ups, for their ARVs, for their support groups. And I know these groups can be as plastic as they appear, because everyone is paining, and everyone is surrounded by a world full of among others, stigma, lack and waiting for a unknown future.
It's like they are awaiting an AIDing future. A future of infection. You can only dream so far. You can only go so far in enjoying this life. It's too costly to imagine that you can live your life to the fullest, because that might mean not living on the ARVs anymore.
Today, as I remember this day, is to hope that, with my actions, I will help those who have not come into terms with that HIV is real, but also I want to be a living hope to those whose future has been limited. A future which has been Aided. What is it that I can do to help them? And generations to come?
Thinking. Hoping. Acting....On a journey
- As of December 2011, 1.6 million people in Kenya were living with HIV;
- An estimated 49,126 people died of AIDS-related causes in 2011, slightly more than one-third the annual number who died in 2002–2004;
- Sexual transmission is the primary driver of Kenya’s epidemic. Heterosexual transmission within a union or primary partnership accounts for an estimated 44% of new infections;
- Among adults living with HIV, women represent 58% of prevalent infections; and
- In 2009, more than 110,000 individuals received antiretroviral prophylaxis following a potential HIV exposure.
Read full report