HIV continues to be a real and present challenge for Kenya. Approximately 1.3 million people are living with HIV as of the Kenya Aids Indicator Survey (KAIS) 2012 Survey. This comprises a significant proportion of the now approximately 44 Million strong total Kenyan population. Various response strategies are being employed to deal with the situation, among them is the Human rights based approach (National Aids Control Council (NACC) Manual on HIV &Human Rights, 2013). The Legal and Treatment Literacy training is one such effort.
The trainings are spawned on the now well appreciated nexus between human rights protection and effective response to HIV. It is almost axiomatic, that the law is least of the least among all the possible means that could be employed to cure HIV. This fact notwithstanding, PLHIV and those affected with HIV need the law to support them so as to continue leading normal, healthy and productive lives.
From the time when the first case of HIV was discovered in the country almost three decades ago through to the year 1999 when it was declared a national disaster and the year 2001 when ARVs became more available locally owing to the importation of cheaper generic medications from India through bilateral agreements such as PEPFAR and Global Fund, the response against HIV has made significant gains which must be jealously guarded, consolidated and built on so as to realize that ambitious, idyllic yet attainable goal of “zero new infections, zero discrimination and zero deaths.”
Methodology of engagement.
Aids Law Project’s (ALP) HIV- Human Rights training manual has provided the structure around which the trainings has been modeled. Members of staff take turn to highlight different sections of the manual and particularly narrow down to the HIV and AIDS Prevention and Control Act (HAPCA). Questions and comments are then invited from the clients in attendance. Clients in attendance are issued with copies of HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Act ALP Booklet, the ALP Comic Booklet and ALP brochures.
a) The training has afforded an opportunity for engagement with the critical population in the organization’s mainstream work – Persons Living with HIV (PLHIV).
b) It has provided a good forum for the HRBA approach to HIV Response to be published to CCC clients from the grassroots.
c) Some clients have filled the Client information forms with cases that can be taken up with potentially positive public interest litigation dimensions.
d) The activity has courted remarkable goodwill from the health facilities at large and the Comprehensive Care Clinic in particular. This is a valuable asset for further engagement and future collaboration.
Some of the clients attending have been visibly gripped by the presentations and in reaction to the sessions, questions have been asked and some made noteworthy contributions. Some were captured as follows:
- Proposal for affirmative action in support of children who got infected through Mother to Child Transmission (MTCT) – (National Aids and STI Control Programme (NASCOP) estimates 1.55 million babies were born in 2011, 6.3% of pregnant women IN Kenya were living with HIV, at least 38,900 HIV positive babies were born) – (Source, Government of Kenya (GOK), Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) Guidelines 2012, 4th ed, p15)
- Training of Police authorities on the rights of PLHIV in custody or in prison.
- The effect of the currently high tax incidence on incomes of PLHIV, particularly its nexus with nutrition which is a critical component of HIV care and management.
Clients are attended to in the early morning (as early as 6.30am). Finding clients in considerable number means a facilitator has to arrive so early which is sometimes frustrated by the capricious state of morning traffic in the city.
There is considerable disruption to the presentations for reason that Clients endeavor to listen to the presentations as they are attended to by the CCC staff. Equally, clients are sometimes visibly in hurry to get attended to so they can proceed to other pressing businesses of the day. These competing interests deny them an opportunity to actively listen even when their interest is visibly noticeable.
Using the national language to deliver content can be particularly frustrating.
The training sessions are a good avenue for continued engagement with the critical population. Further, the filling in of the CLIENT INFORMATION FORM provides a critical starting point for a relationship that furthers the mission of the organization which is to ensure that rights and welfare of PLHIV.
ALP remains committed to ensuring the respect, protection and promotion of the human rights of PLHIV, and to filling the information gap on the human rights perspective as it impacts HIV & AIDS.
Kindly, therefore find attached useful information of the trainings in terms of weekly digest for your information.