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

Video British Fighters On Frontline of ISIS Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Multimedia Hit Song Delivers Ebola Message in Liberia

'Ebola in Town' has danceable beat, while also delivering serious message about avoiding infection More

Video New Technology Gives Surgeons Unprecedented Views of Patients’ Bodies

Technology offers real-time, interactive, medical visualization and is multi-dimensional 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.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid