Council Rolls Out HIV Campaigns In Kisumu

The National Syndemic Disease Control Council (NSDCC) has rolled out an outreach programme to contain the fresh HIV infections among the fishing community in Kisumu County

Through the initiative, NSDCC targets to train and build capacity for 140 Beach Management Unit (BMU) leaders to give impetus to the fight against the virus.

Kisumu and Siaya Regional HIV Aids Coordinator Steve Kathaka said the targeted BMU leaders will undergo a Training of Trainers programme on taming new HIV infections, teenage pregnancies and sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) and in turn, cascade the information to their peers.

Each of the BMU leaders, he added, will reach out to 700 others working under them to drive the message home.

Kathaka said the focus on the fishing community comes against the backdrop of rising numbers of new infections amongst the fishing community, dealing a blow to the gains made in the fight against the virus.

‘Data is showing us that a large number of new HIV infections take place amongst the fis
hing community. That is why Kisumu, Siaya, Homa Bay and Migori counties rank among the top five in HIV burden in the country,’ he said.

He attributed the rise in infections to the migratory nature of fishermen and the availability of cash which fuels transactional sex.

This, he added, has further contributed to a sharp rise in teenage pregnancies in Kisumu with up to 6,000 cases reported in Kisumu County in the year 2022.

The trend, he said, was worrying since the teenagers who get pregnant are also exposed to HIV adding to the number of new infections in the area.

‘The number of cases is worrying because the same route for the pregnancies is the same route for HIV transmission,’ he said.

SGBV, he added, was rampant amongst the fisher folk in Kisumu with Nyakach, Nyando and Seme sub-counties recording the highest number of cases.

This, he said, was attributed to the nature of the work since fishermen venture into the lake and stay away from their families for days and when they return home conflicts ari

Speaking at Asat Beach in Kisumu County during the launch of the three days’ outreach program, Kathaka said the BMU leaders will receive training on HIV prevention, use of PREP and PEP and adherence to Antiretroviral therapy and Tuberculosis (TB) drugs.

Adherence to ARV treatment and TB drugs, he said remained a big challenge among the fishing community adding that the BMU leaders shall be equipped with the necessary information and materials to educate their peers on the importance of taking the drugs.

‘This is a mobile population and adherence to treatment and attendance for health talks is wanting. As they venture into the lake some of them forget their drugs at home thus interfering with their treatment,’ he said.

‘That is why we are saying as you go fishing and you are on treatment please carry your medication with you so that you remain healthy,’ he said.

The TOTs, he added will also be engaged in sensitizing the community against non-communicable diseases especially cervical cancer which is on
the rise in the area.

Caused by Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), which is common in uncircumcised men, he said, NSDCC has embarked on a programme to scale up Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision to reverse the tide.

The interventions, he said were set to create a demand for services and regenerate the vigour of fighting HIV in the area.

Source: Kenya News Agency