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Hospitals discriminate against HIV-positive Kenyans


Hospitals discriminate against HIV-positive Kenyans

Kenya aims at achieving 90 per cent diagnosis of all HIV-positive Kenyans by 2020.

Health institutions, insurance companies and families are some of the highest violators of the HIV Prevention and Control Act that bars HIV/Aids related discrimination and stigma.

According to the Jennifer Mwilu, the co-ordinator of the sensitisation programme, most cases filed at the tribunal touch on testing without consent, disclosure of status to third parties and discrimination of vulnerable persons by their families.

The tribunal hears civil cases of discrimination and stigmatisation against people with HIV/Aids, and awards damages to the affected if the accused is found guilty of fundamental rights abuses.

Speaking during a sensitisation forum in Meru town, Ms Mwilu said the tribunal has received more than 350 cases since it became operational in 2012.

“The tribunal has resolved many other cases through mediation. At the family level, women and children are the most affected.

“We are engaging chiefs and village heads because they are the first point of contact when there are disputes in the community. We want to reduce the number of cases coming to the tribunal by lowering stigma,” said Ms Mwilu.

STIGMA

While noting that stigma and discrimination were the biggest driver of death of HIV patients, Ms Mwilu raised concern over the rise of stigma and discrimination in universities and colleges.

“The government is providing free ARVs and nutrition to all. However, stigmatised patients tend to abandon drugs, thus affecting their viral load and compromising their health,” she said.

“We have also learnt that students living with HIV/Aids are having a difficult time in universities and colleges. We are engaging learning institutions to implement policies that protect people living with the virus.”

To reach more Kenyans, Ms Mwilu said the tribunal would roll out teleconference hearings in Nyeri, Mombasa and Kisumu from January.

“We are also opening registries in all former provincial headquarters to ease filing of complaints. If there are many cases from a certain region, the bench can consider moving to the nearest town,” she added.

Kenya aims at achieving 90 per cent diagnosis of all HIV-positive Kenyans, 90 per cent provision of antiretroviral therapy to those who need it and 90 per cent viral load suppression among those on antiretroviral therapy by 2020.