Science changed the total geography of the Universe. Latest inventions and discoveries in the medical field paved a better way of disease diagnosis and its cure. However, there are certain some diseases that still need more scientific and medical attention. There is still unavailability of proper medical cure for such diseases. This deadly group of diseases includes AIDS, acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. The lethal disease is also known as HIV, human immunodeficiency virus.
What is AIDS/HIV?
AIDS is a disease of human immune system caused by HIV virus. It includes all the diseases, ranging from early infection to late stage symptoms caused by HIV virus. The disease starts with influenza-like infections during its initial stage. Later on, it gets developed, making the person more prone to acquire severe infections. The person starts to get opportunistic infections and tumors, to which a normal person is resistant by his working immune system. HIV is a retrovirus (actually it is a lentivirus, a subgroup of retrovirus) that affects the immune system of a person and causes AIDS.The disease results in a progressive failure of the immune system making the person prone to life-threatening infections and cancers. The virus infects T-helper cells, dendritic cells and macrophages of the human immune system. Depending on the HIV subtype and without treatment, the average survival of the infected patient is 9 to 11 years.
An HIV infection occurs through various means as blood, vaginal fluid, semen, breast milk, pre-ejaculate etcetera. The virus lives as a free virus particles and virus within the infected immune cells in such fluids. The primary transmission of HIV virus includes unprotected sexual intercourse (including oral and anal sex), infected blood transfusions, hypodermic needles and from mother to child. The child can get infected during pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding. However, the infection can be prevented through safe (protected) sex and un-contaminated and needle exchange programmes. Such prevention are the key approaches to prevent the infection.
Unfortunately, there is not yet any cure or vaccine for the disease. However, a normal life expectancy can be achieved by the infected person by antiretroviral treatment. The treatment slows down the pace of the disease and thus can facilitate the survival of the patient. However, these medications are very expensive and possess side-effects.
According to the latest medical research, AIDS started in late nineteenth or early twentieth century in the West- Africa. It spread to the other parts of the world quickly. It was prevalent in most of the African countries during 1980’s like Kenya. However, the findings of the virus lead to the establishments of medical institutions to prevent and control the disease. In the meantime, some of the African countries controlled the pace of its spread and reach in other parts. For instance, introduction of education about the disease and medical facilities reduce the number of its victims.
Kenya has lowered the cases of HIV/AIDS because of education of the people about the disease, provided protection, and availability of the medicine.
- History HIV/AIDS in Kenya
According to various researches, the HIV virus reached Kenya during 1970s. The virus came from the Western Equatorial region through Uganda or Tanzania. Health professionals working in Kenya at that time noted a similar acute health condition among some individuals. The first AIDS case in Kenya, among the people living around the shores of Lake Victoria, occurred in 1978. According to The Kenya AIDS epidemic update 2011, HIV and AIDS started in 1984, and overall condition of the epidemic has improved. In this year, the first AIDS case was officially reported in Kenya by Kenyan Health Ministry.
The AIDS epidemic was so harsh in Kenya that about 1.5 million people died, with two million living cases (including 600,000 women and children) (Kawewa, 2000). The condition was so worst that it was declared as a national disaster by the then president, Mr. Daniel Arap Moi in November 1999 at Mombasa. In this year, National Aids Control Council (NACC) came into force to manage all the AIDS programmes in the country.
According to Kawewa 2000, there were various factors responsible for the increase of HIV/AIDS in Kenya. For example, peer force among adolescents on sexual conduct, Conventional cultural practices and values, Socialization rituals, Arrogance endured of witlessness, Alcohol abuse, and Commercial sex etcetera made the aura feasible for the epidemic disease in the Country. Such elements cause the virus to spread at a fast pace. One more important aspect that pave a viable way for the virus to spread in Kenya was ‘the zero or very little knowledge about the disease by the Kenyan population.’
However, with the introduction of certain effective and efficient policies and strategies by the Kenyan government, the country was able to reduce the infections.
III. Kenya Turning Point with HIV/AIDS
According to economic survey 2000, 50% of the Kenyan population live below the poverty line. This was a main reason that a maximum portion of the total population was vulnerable to a fatal infection. This factor contributes to the high incidence of the lethal disease. The penurious families spend very little on education, medical health and other usual needs of life. Women and children in the country were more disadvantageous and at higher risks of acquiring the disease. Generally speaking, the most people remain deprived of the social, economic and medical support.
After the first case identified in 1984, the Government of Kenya took bold steps to withstand a disaster. From 1985 to 1986, a five-year Medium Term Plan was developed and launched to focus on the promotion of safe sexual practices. National AIDS Committee was also formed. AIDS programme secretariat also came into force to reduce the further dissemination of the disease. In 1992, the National HIV/AIDS Control Programme and National STD Control Programme were merged to create the National HIV/AIDS and STD Control Programme – NASCOP. In 1997, the parliament of the country approved the formation of National Aids Control Council (NACC). NACC established the Strategic Plan to fight against the disease during the 2000 to 2005.
The Government of Kenya introduced its policies to check the further spread of the disease. It follows an objective policy direction, institutional development and the resource mobilization to enhance the policies against the disease. For instance, National Aids Control Council (NACC) coordinate, supervise and promote the guidelines for implementation. It strengthens other units that work for the same cause.
HIV/AIDS is a great challenge to deal. Despite its ever increasing complications, Kenya has been worthy in fighting the disease. In 2011, there were 1.6 million people in Kenya living with HIV infection (The Kenya AIDS epidemic update, 2011). The government of Kenya has enlightened a hope for its people from all walks of life by providing them with the latest treatments and medical access. The rates of the medicines have been reduced to ensure the proper access of the common people. The smooth representation of various policies and programmes addressed the epidemic productively.
One more important aspect for controlling of the disease is the introduction of adult education for the people by the government. The department of Adult Education was started in 1979. Its main vision was to empower the nation by providing education to the people of Kenya. A main reason for its implementation was to establish a foundation of social development in the country. It was meant to provide an education to adults, including out of school youth. People who were directly associated with the Adult Education programmes were given trainings and education regarding HIV and AIDS. Officers were created to learn and teach about behaviour change (due to HIV/AIDS). The general population was approached with the Adult Education, educating people about safe sex (unprotected sex), and sexual diseases etcetera. Such programmes encouraged participation in the fight against HIV/AIDS through the World Aids Day/Candle light Memorial. The Education had the ability to promote the behaviour that can reduce the infection risks.
IV. Kenya Today HIV/AIDS
According to International standards and recommendations, Kenya formulated the policies of a sustainable approach to check the epidemic. Nationalised guidelines facilitated the prevention and control of the disease. The guidelines include professional training, capacity building initiatives and proper information about the pros and cons of the disease. It involves better clinical trainings to ensure proper diagnosis and concrete implementation of the knowledge and expertise. High active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) has been introduced in the country to check the disease. It has been of tremendous success. It has reduced the mortality among the people living with AIDS/HIV.
Kenya is expanding its strategies to promote a high quality access of HIV diagnosis, care and treatment. The country is saving the precious lives of its people by reframing and advancing the treatment policies and strides. Kenya emerged as an astounding country to deal such disaster, boosting the national productivity and making the life of the infected people better. Since 2003, the HIV prevalence among adults of Kenya has remained steady. The HIV prevalence decreased 14% from 1990’s. Government even initiated free antiretroviral therapy (ART) to enhance the care.
However, medical research professionals are facing an emerging obstruction with drug-resistant HIV. Drug-resistant HIV has greatly challenged the efficiency of HAART. The high replication capacity of HIV virus and its error-prone transcription is a chief cause to develop a resistance.
The post-election violence in Kenya in 2008 resulted in interrupted accessibility of many HIV patients. Also, with the recent low or reduced funding on accessibility of ARVs drugs by the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), there may be more HIV drug resistance levels in Kenya.
Despite extensive use of ARV agents, it has been observed, not much has been reported on HIV drug-resistance among drug-naive subjects in Kenya.
Kenya has emerged as a prodigious country to fight HIV/AIDS epidemic. From 1984, the country has been in a consistent struggle to control the endemic disease. Introduction of latest medical facilities and proper Adult Education resulted in fruitful outcomes. Despite the low economic standard of the country, Kenya formulated some extraordinary strides for fighting the disease. Implementation of various organizations and institutions geared the developmental aspects of the country. National Aids Control Council (NACC) proved as one of the best tools that helped to check the epidemic. Its coordination with other units bears fruitful outcomes.
The country was able to check the main reasons for the increase of AIDS/HIV at a right time. A five-year Medium Term Plan in 1985 and the Strategic Plan to fight against the disease during the 2000 to 2005 recognised the whole HIV/AIDS enigma.
Implementation of education on AIDS/HIV boosted the knowledge of the ill effects of the disease. High active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) proved to be an important aspect in the disease reduction. However, HAART is facing some new challenges due to drug-resistant capacity of some HIV virus strains. Sex education played a key role in minimising the pace of spread of the disease. Various other factors like the government’s approach towards the disease and the sustainable implementation of various strategies helped to reduce the impact of the disease on the society. Also, it enhanced the quality of life of the people by providing them with a high quality medical care and treatment facilities. Strictly speaking, Kenya has lowered the cases of HIV/AIDS because of education of the people about the disease, provided protection, and availability of the medicine.
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