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Playing to out-mark HIV/AIDS in Kenya

Copyrights: Gabriel T Tabona

Playing to out-mark HIV/AIDS in Kenya

Considering how sport can be utilised to tackle HIV/AIDS in Kenya, and taking a look at past initiatives and possible future initiatives.

According to the National AIDS Control Council of Kenya (NACC), there has been a significant increase of young people diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. An approximate 300,000 youths aged below 24 were part of 1.5 million people diagnosed in 2018.

While a number of interventions countrywide have not gone unnoticed, the alarming prevalence rate among people aged 15-24 remains the same.

It can be argued that with cancer taking the attention in Kenya’s health crisis, the relevance of HIV/AIDS as a priority case has declined. This has contributed to its growing impact on economically deprived populations.

With early sexual debut reported among young Kenyans, it calls for innovative ways to encourage young people to know their status. In 2016, the NACC partnered with Football Kenya Federation to see teams in the 6th tier league, dubbed Maisha County League, benefit from a season long HIV/AIDS testing campaign culminating in national finals on that year’s World AIDS Day. Chukua selfie, a self-testing campaign spearheaded by local Kenyan celebrities encourages people to know their HIV/AIDS status through a self-testing kit and online counseling, a move that will go a long way to alleviate stigma. Noting that there is a thin line between testing for the virus and stigma, synergies between these two initiatives can be instrumental in reducing barriers, safeguarding one’s confidentiality, improving one’s resilience and raising awareness.

At a time when Kenya’s economic future looks bleak due to high cost of living, accessing treatment among unemployed HIV patients proves to be a tall order in a country that is piloting its Universal Health Coverage. With the TV rights revenues generated by international sports federations such as Confederation of African Football (CAF), it is possible for sport to help neutralise this through dedicating a percentage of their income during international competitions to support the treatment of people living with the virus.

People living with HIV/AIDS find it hard to settle in their communities. Grassroots community clubs such as the ones which participated in the 2016 Maisha County Leagues can be perfect re-integration hubs which can act as support groups for HIV/AIDS patients.

Therefore, as Kenya’s attention is shifting towards cancer, key stakeholders need to re-examine their commitment and go back to the basics to tactically out-maneuver HIV/AIDS.


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Thursday, November 21, 2019 - 13:55