World AIDS Day is a global event which takes place on 1st December annually. The theme of this year’s activities was Getting to Zero, Zero HIV related deaths, Zero discrimination.
In Siaya over 1,600 people from 6 sub-counties attended the forum which Ace Africa held in partnership with a number of other local partners including the Ministry of Health, Matibabu Foundation, Kenya Red Cross, Lake Victoria Child Support Programme, Tembea Youth Group and many more.
Activities on the day included songs, drama with advocacy focused on transmission, prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS. A number of community theatre groups (including UCAHA Youth Group, Gem Rera Pet Group) provided performances to an engaged audience.
There were testimonies from community members sharing their experience of HIV. One discordant couple (those with differing HIV statuses in the couple) encouraged the community that being HIV positive should not be a problem in families. The trend of the blame game in families as has always been the case does not help. Life has to continue through adherence to prolong life through antiretroviral therapy and listening to advice given by health workers.
Ace Africa were on hand on the day to provide counselling and testing services with community members being encouraged to visit to find out their HIV status. On the day 112 people were counselled and 65 (38m, 27f) were tested. Out of this, 3 females tested HIV positive. They have now been referred to various health facilities for care and treatment. Those who tested negative were advised on best practices on preventing HIV infection.
A partner, ICAP, were on hand to provide sensitisation services on voluntary medical male circumcision educating communities on the benefits of the practice and how it can reduce HIV infection by 60%.
At the end of the day there were a number of speeches by representatives from Ministries and organisations. One coordinator summed up the day perfectly; “The journey to reduce impact of HIV is a long one, and that we can only achieve this through joint efforts.”