Today, December 1, we celebrate World AIDS Day here on location in Kenya.
At the clinic, we’re running a campaign for this event by offering free HIV testing. Dennis Mutwiri, a VCT-counsellor, is volunteering to make all the tests. Fredrik and I were the first ones out, and we expect a great crowd around lunchtime when people can take a break from work.
In Kenya, it’s common to look up a VCT-counsellor (Volunteering Testing Counselling) when testing oneself for HIV. It’s also possible to do the test while seeking healthcare, either in the hospital or at dispensaries. The tests are free of charge, with the government picking up the cost.
If you test positive for HIV, you are sent to a CCC (Comprehensive Care Centre) for counselling, psychological support and, not least, medication. The government pays for these costs as well.
CCC is the body that registers the number of positive HIV tests and reports to the government. There is a large unrecorded number, however. In Kenya it is estimated that around 6% of the population is affected, i.e. registered. In the area around Gundua, as many as 20% of the population is registered. Many affected patients are so ashamed that they don’t register with a CCC, which is why the total number is probably much higher. Other patients ignore the results, not wanting to believe them, and don’t register for that reason.