Blog by Eddie Kimani, a DSW Youth Champion from Nairobi, Kenya.

On December 1, the world marked the 31st World AIDS Day. In the ghetto where we work and live, we marked the strides we have taken in significantly reducing the stigma and discrimination faced by individuals with HIV & AIDS.

Winnie Byanyima, the newly appointed Executive Director of UNAIDS recently said; “When people and communities have power and agency, change happens.’’ We are certainly seeing our community-centered efforts creating change! Aided with innovative interventions such as self-testing kits, we are breaking the barriers of stigma and seeing a growth in people receiving treatment. Through activities such as free condom distribution, voluntary testing, and counseling services at community/ youth centers and campaigns on accurate condom use, we have seen a huge rise in the sharing of accurate information and people making informed choices.

Helping individuals to take charge of their own health is central to this progress. Increased access and uptake of preventive, testing and management interventions have been vital to empowering individuals to take care of their own health. To ‘self-care’. According to the World Health Organization, self-care interventions are among the most promising and exciting new approaches to improve health and wellbeing, both from a health system perspective and for people who use these interventions. [1] We are seeing self-care transforming lives.

In Kenya, pilot programs of HIV self-test kits are ongoing and have already produced impressive results. My community resource center, Githurai Youth Empowerment Center, which has years of experience working on issues relating to sexual and reproductive health and rights is one of the selected organisations pioneering the awareness-raising and distribution of these kits. In the first few months of this pilot, we have seen large numbers of men and youth, especially targeted as part of the campaign, engaging with the services.

The research and innovation that led to the development of these kits have made it possible for us to assist often difficult to reach individuals. Such interventions are changing the face of healthcare and empowering individuals to take charge of their own health. Such innovation is making it possible for us to re-conceptualize the borders of the health center as far as sexual and reproductive health and rights are concerned. We are doing this by bringing services closer to the people by making products and professionals accessible at the youth center, having trained youth and women delivering campaigns and doing outreach work, and using task-sharing models in the provision of service – facilitated with tools such as the self-test kits. [2]

HIV has claimed more than 32 million lives so far. We want to be the generation that sees the end of HIV & AIDS. Through reshaping healthcare, engaging young people with accurate information and through the development of innovative tools, delivered by the community at the community level – I am confident we can succeed!

Youth outreach activity providing HIV self-testing services. 


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