In the past two decades, AIDS has reduced life expectancy in Kenya by 20 years. More than 1.1 million adults and 100,000 children are now HIV positive in Kenya, and an estimated 60% of hospital beds are needed for HIV patients.
Anti-retroviral Therapy (ART) prolongs and improves the lives of people with AIDS. But ART is a complex and life-long treatment, and its success depends on it being taken properly – not least because incomplete treatment can trigger drug-resistant strains of AIDS-related diseases such as TB.
Around 140,000 people are now accessing ART in Kenya (double the number three years ago). With support from AMREF and GlaxoSmithKline, Zingatia Maisha (Swahili for ‘Positive Action’) is encouraging people living with HIV/AIDS and the wider community to access treatment (especially those in remote areas) and to adhere to this treatment once started.
Aims of Zingatia Maisha
Zingatia Maisha works with the Ministry of Health and local communities to ensure that ART has the maximum benefit for the patient’s quality of life. This includes:
- helping health care workers understand and follow national guidelines on the appropriate and sensitive delivery of HIV treatment services
- helping AIDS-support groups ensure their members adhere to their treatment regime
- strengthening links between community support groups and government health facilities so that patient referrals and follow-up are improved
HIV positive support groups have been strengthened to support people living with HIV/AIDS and their membership has increased. As a result, more people living with HIV/AIDS are accessing ART and adhering to their treatment.
Health care professionals have greater knowledge about treatment of HIV/AIDS and more sensitivity when dealing with people living with HIV/AIDS as a result of guidelines and training sessions.
Health clinics are linking with HIV support groups, enabling people living with HIV/AIDS to be more involved in HIV care. This, in turn, improves the services that are offered.