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HIV Stigma and discrimination killed my father

By okun oliech | August 15th 2016

I was in form two when my father was diagnosed to be HIV positive. I had to leave school and look after my father because he was so ill and no one was there to take care of him. My mother had divorced my dad so I had no other option but to be there for him.

I made sure my father took his medication on time and ate well. The community around us was so harsh to us. No one wanted to associate with us at all. We were treated like outcasts. My father was the talk in the village each and every single day.

I was so determined to see my father get back on his feet so that I could go back to school. After one month of taking his medication, my father finally got back on his feet. He promised me to continue taking his medication as I left for school.

Two months later I was called from school to go and be with my father because he was extremely sick. When I got home I was so shocked to see my father in a bad shape. He was so thin that you could count his ribs. He had pores all over his body and had a persisted cough. I took my father to the hospital where the doctor told me my dad had stopped taking his medication. Moreover, my father had tuberculosis.

My father told me that he stopped taking his medication because he was afraid of the community. He never left the house at all during the day. Two weeks later my father passed on. It was so painful that my father died a painful death that could have been prevented. If only the community was supportive and never discriminated my father because of his status he would still be alive.

HIV Stigma and discrimination in Kenya stands at 45%. According to the National AIDS Control Council, HIV related stigma and discrimination has been identified as impacting negatively on uptake of HIV services including HIV testing and counseling, care and treatment. People experiencing stigma are more than four times likely to report poor access to care and treatment.  

I call upon the national and county government to implement the Kenya AIDS Strategic Framework (2014- 2019) to the latter. One of the objectives of the Kenya AIDS Strategic Framework is to reduce stigma and discrimination by 50%. This can only be achieved if both governments are committed to ending HIV stigma.

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