HIV/AIDS Testing and Circumcision Day

29 04 2011

Kenya is one of the countries that has been hardest hit by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The United Nations program on HIV and AIDS estimates that about 1.5 million people in country are living with HIV and a staggaring 1.2 million children have been orphaned by AIDS (click here for more info on HIV/AIDS in Kenya). Tragically, this reality hits home for many people living in Mathare. Luckily, there has been a dramatic decrease in the number of people infected in the last ten years. Much of this is due to increased education and awareness.

Inspiration Centre Mathare is doing our part to help educate our community about HIV/AIDS and encourage everyone to know their status. That is why we hosted a voluntary HIV/AIDS testing event yesterday in Mathare. Anyone who wanted to was welcomed to come and get their blood tested free of charge.

In Inspiration Centre style, we set up loud speakers and music to get the party started and attract people to the event.

Inspiration Centre director, Moses, gets tested in order to encourage others to break the silence and know their status.

One of our own boys gets his blood drawn

Overall, we had a great turnout — 30 people got tested! The procedure is simple, but the decision to get tested is a scary one. “The stigma associated with HIV/Aids makes it harder for people to come out and speak openly about their HIV status. Some people would rather blame it on witchcraft than come out and speak about it,” said Moses. But the benefits are undeniable. Getting tested for HIV is one of the best ways to stop its spread. “It is an honorable thing to teach our youth the responsibility of knowing their status, no matter how scary the process may be,” said Celmali Jaime, a volunteer who wished courage to all those getting tested.

In addition to voluntary testing, we also provided the opportunity for free circumcisions to any male who wished to take part. The World Health Organization has concluded that male circumcision reduces the risk of male infection by 60 percent. It is important to note that this procedure doesn’t make anyone immune to the disease, but it can play an important role in a comprehensive HIV/AIDS prevention program.

Seven very brave young men took advantage of the opportunity. Congratulations to them! It took courage undergo this painful procedure.

We would like to extend a special thanks to St. Vincent's Catholic Church for providing doctors and caregivers for the entire day. Without them, the day would not have been possible.

The event was such a success, we plan to do it every time the schools are on vacation. A big thanks to everyone who helped out and a round of applause for those with courage to know their status.

Simple translation: "I know my status"

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