Women Renew Commitment to End AIDS in Kenya

Date: 18 Oct 2011

Women living with HIV and AIDS have called for gearing up efforts to end AIDS in Kenya after a recent survey showed HIV prevalence among women is higher than the national rate.

Government statistics indicate that national prevalence is 6.3 percent, compared to 8 percent for women. HIV prevalence among women is nearly double the rate for men, which is 4.3 percent.

National AIDS Control Council Deputy Director John Kamigwi stressed that women affected by HIV and AIDS continue to disproportionately bear the consequences of stigma and discrimination.

“Many women are caregivers to partners, children and parents, which leaves them with little time to seek care for their own health by accessing medical appointments, support groups, nutritional supplements and other tools necessary for HIV management, Kamigwi said.

Women also have a unique and valuable role to play both in society and shaping responses to stem new infections, he added.

Kamigwi spoke in early October at a meeting to brief the media on the National Leadership Conference for Women Living with HIV and AIDS. The meeting was facilitated by the council, UN Women and UNAIDS.

Dorothy Onyango, director of Women Fighting AIDS in Kenya, said that many Kenyans believe HIV-positive women should not be sexually active. Onyango, who is living with HIV, urged the creation of a strong advocacy movement to address HIV among women and girls.

Maureen Murenga, who represented young women living with HIV and AIDS, said that the practice of sterilizing women was denying them an opportunity to be mothers. She called on the government to stop the practice.

The National Leadership Conference took place in Nairobi in mid-October, adopting the theme “Championing Women Leadership to End AIDS. For the first time, it celebrated women who have significantly contributed to gains in stopping HIV.