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International News

Kenya: Vihiga Sees Success With Men's Anti-AIDS Clinic

October 25, 2010

As a way to improve outcomes, some clinics in Kenya are encouraging males to accompany their female partners to programs that aim to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission (PMTCT).

"For two years now ... we give special treatment to all men who accompany their wives to either pre[natal] or postnatal clinics," said Martha Opisa, head nurse at the health center in Vihiga. The facility used to see 40 clients a month seeking PMTCT services, she said. "But now, we now receive between 60 and 70 clients per month, almost doubling the original figure."

The clinics are part of the "Zingatia Maisha" program ("carefully consider life" or "positive action" in Swahili), funded by GlaxoSmithKline and the Kenyan government. Program implementation is through the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, the African Medical Research Foundation and the National Empowerment Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS.

"During the [men's] clinics, we also offer free counseling and testing of HIV to those who are willing," said Opisa. The clinic screens for STDs and TB, "and we offer treatment of any other disease the client may be suffering from," she said. The center offers prenatal lessons on baby care, family planning, hygiene, HIV infection, and prevention.

"It was not an easy decision," said one father, Pastor Joseph Muhembeli. Through the program, men encourage other men to attend the clinics with their wives. It succeeded because men "listen to other men," Muhembeli said. "Through lessons from the clinic, encouragement by support group members and other experts, we have been able to have two HIV-negative children," he added. The couple, who tested HIV-positive four years ago, have another daughter who also is HIV-negative.

"When we counsel couples, it is easier to disclose their status while they are together than having one partner to disclose to the other," Opisa said. "If they are reactive, it is also easy to enroll them on a PMTCT program."

Back to other news for October 2010

Adapted from:
Inter Press Service
10.18.2010; Isaiah Espisu

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
See Also
Men Increasingly Involved in PMTCT Programs in Kenya
Quiz: Are You at Risk for HIV?
10 Common Fears About HIV Transmission
More on HIV Prevention in Kenya

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