Door-to-door HIV tests begin
Posted Friday, April 17 2009 at 20:27
Kenyans who might have been too nervous to pay a visit to a Voluntary Counselling and Testing centre in parts of Rift Valley, Nyanza and Western provinces need no longer worry — medics will soon be knocking on their doors offering to do a test.
Later, they can also use Global Positioning Systems (GPS) to locate homes they have visited.
This is the latest in an arsenal of weapons in the fight against HIV, the virus that has devastated Kenya for two decades.
According to Academic Model for Providing Access To Health (Ampath) programme manager for Western Kenya, Dr Sylvester Kimaiyo, the project involves recruiting an influential person or community organiser from each village to educate residents on the initiative.
The community organisers will guide counsellors to those willing to be tested.
Ampath is a project of USAid, the US government agency that provides direct aid to developing countries.
Dr Kimaiyo said at the programme launch in Nairobi on Friday that to maintain confidentiality, community organisers will not witness the testing.
The counsellors will have a Palm Pilot and Global Positioning Systems equipment to collect data on the family’s health, education and follow up.
This new effort is spurred by an emerging trend where the rate of new infections is higher in married couples than in single people.
In trials targeting 210,000 homes in Kosirai Division in Mosoriot, Mautama and Turbo in the Rift Valley, Dr Kimaiyo said medics were welcomed in 95 per cent of the homes they visited.
Those who agree to be tested will be given two bed nets, have free pregnancy tests and screening for tuberculosis. Children under five will be dewormed.
The US and Kenyan governments joined forces with 220 companies under the auspices of the Global Business Coalition to fund the two-year project, which aims at testing two million people by 2010. The project will cost Sh432 million.
Nyanza and western Kenya were selected because of the high HIV prevalence rate and the existence of the Ampath programme in the area.