News / Africa

HIV Counseling in Kenya Often Stressful for Both Patients, Counselors

A little more than a year after the Kenyan and U.S. governments launched a nationwide HIV home testing program in Kenya, some counselors in the program say they are feeling overwhelmed. They cite harsh conditions in the field, conflicts in the homes of people being tested and the stress of delivering bad news on a daily basis as contributing factors.

In Kenya door-to-door counselors undergo special training on how to test couples and families for HIV
In Kenya door-to-door counselors undergo special training on how to test couples and families for HIV

Multimedia

HIV counselor Maryanne Wangui and her colleagues had to trudge through ankle-deep mud and streams mixed with raw sewage to get to a settlement outside of Nairobi to test a single mother for HIV.

Wangui says she loves her job with Liverpool Volunteer Counseling and Testing, but in a place like the Kawangware settlement, it can be overwhelming.

"There are some households, you go, there are no seats, there is nothing to sit on," she says. "They [the clients] will also start giving you so many stories. Maybe some have not eaten for days. Some have got problems, although we really try to focus on HIV/AIDS."

The Kenyan and U.S. governments, along with the Global Business Coalition, launched the two-year HIV Home Testing Program in April 2009.

The initiative targets two million people in households across Kenya.

It supports the Kenyan government's goal of informing 80 percent of Kenyans about their HIV status by the end of this year. Kenya's HIV infection rate stands at around seven percent. The highest new infection rate occurs among men and women in committed relationships.

And people in those relationships stand to gain the most from home testing, says Dr. Nicholas Muraguri, head of Kenya's National AIDS/STD Control Program.

"One of the problems we are having is disclosure," he says. "A lot of people come and test HIV positive and they do not inform their sexual partners at all. That limits the opportunity to actually be able to prevent HIV and also access treatment."

Maryanne Wangui
Maryanne Wangui

Finding out that a family member is HIV positive can be devastating. Maryanne Wangui says she and other counselors at times feel like home wreckers when they deliver the bad news.

"I have a colleague who experienced that the lady turned out to be HIV positive and the man turned out to be HIV negative. They said they would not have any commotion, they would go for couple counseling, they would go to Kenyatta [National Hospital]," she said. "But later, the next day, the lady called the counselor and said that she was battered by the man and she was sent out of the house."

Dr. Muraguri says door-to-door counselors undergo special training on how to test couples and families.

But he says there are not enough resources to provide longer-term counseling or even to test everyone who wants to be tested at home. He says the initiative is short 30 percent of trained counselors.

Counselor David Kihiu says the work is stressful.

David Kihiu
David Kihiu

"I tested a family of four who were all HIV positive," he says. "Then, when I moved to the next family, three of them were HIV positive. The third family was also HIV positive. So, [I experienced] a lot of burn-out - I was just wondering, what would these families do with themselves, and I was wondering whether I have actually given the right information. I was just saying, if I test all these families, are they going to be the same? What possible will be there? I was stressed."

Kihiu, Wangui and others turn to their peers and supervisors for support.  Liverpool Volunteer Counseling and Testing holds weekly group sessions and have counselors available to work with staff members who are experiencing anxiety or burnout.

Counselors interviewed by VOA say that, despite the challenges, their work gives them satisfaction. They say they reach many people who normally would not seek out testing in clinics.

You May Like

Elusive Deal With Iran Could Yield Foreign Policy Legacy for Obama

A new Iranian leader -- and a strategic shift by the United States -- opens narrow window for nuclear agreement with Tehran More

Column: Saudi-Iran Meeting Could Boost Fight Against Islamic State

The fact that Iranians and Saudis are talking again does not guarantee a breakthrough, but it could make it easier to build a broad coalition against IS More

Thai Ruler Gives Top Cabinet Posts to Junta Inner Circle

Thailand's army chief has kept an iron grip on power as he extends the government, hand-picking an interim parliament that subsequently nominated him prime minister More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid