The HIV/AIDS menace is a global threat. New infections rise day by day and more so in adolescents. This has necessitated the Upendo Foundation amongst other organizations to come up with interventions to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS and to reduce the infection rate as we manage the already infected and affected. The HIV/AIDS prevalence rate in Homabay where Upendo operates, stands at 19.6% and in Rachuonyo South Sub county it is 18%. With Health and Education forming part of the 5 key sectors Upendo Foundation supports, Amani UK in collaboration with Upendo Foundation have put in efforts and resources to help address the situation by running the Healthy Choices for a Better Future programme. After wider consultations with the Ministry of Health and the schools, Upendo held planning meetings and subsequently outreach activities were organized in 19 schools geographically grouped into clusters for ease of convergence and management. In order to bring all together, ball games were incorporated to pull the crowd so as to reach out to many students and community members for HIV/AIDS  testing and counselling. The health providers conducted health talks giving the history of HIV/Aids, its threats and consequences while emphasizing the danger it currently poses to adolescents.

There was an overwhelming turnout in all the outreaches which indicates the willingness of the students and community members to take tests. All the outreaches were successful and it was realized that reduction of stigma starts at prevention as the adolescents in particular avoid the hospital corridors in fear of discrimination. Bringing the services closer to them is a big relief. They voluntarily accepted to be counselled and tested not minding the results. The HIV positive cases were counselled to adhere to drugs and to avoid re-infections and negative cases were counselled to abstain.

This programme is intended to continue and to reach out to as many adolescents in schools as possible. There’s a need for resources to enable more counselling and testing sessions so that many of the adolescents can be reached to help them be secure, high self-esteemed, productive, healthy and lively community members in the future.

Thanks to all who have been involved directly or indirectly, in particular Amani UK partners, Upendo Foundation staff, schools heads, Ministry of Health service providers and health facilities, not forgetting students and learners who volunteered to be counselled and tested.

“Together we can reduce new infections and reinfections among the adolescents”

Seline Ndinya – Upendo Foundation Healthy Choices Programme Coordinator