Reuters Profiles Groups' Fight Against AIDS in Kenya

Reuters on Monday profiled the efforts of Pillar of Hope, a nongovernmental HIV testing and counseling center, and Medecins Sans Frontieres, an international aid organization, in the fight against AIDS in Kenya. The World Health Organization and UNAIDS estimate that 15% of Kenyans were HIV-positive by the end of 2001, but Bettina Schunter, head of mission for MSF in Kenya, said that she believes the HIV prevalence rate could be as high as 30% to 35% in some areas, with the national rate around 20%, according to Reuters. MSF and the England-based ActionAid in June 2002 began importing generic antiretroviral drugs to Kenya, causing the cost of treatment to fall from $93 a month per person to $37 a month per person. This price reduction puts the drugs within reach of the country's growing middle class, Reuters reports. In addition, some state and private sector companies have begun offering the drugs to their employees, and the government has made a commitment to provide treatment to 25,000 HIV-positive people by 2005, Reuters reports. Pillar of Hope, the first center to offer voluntary testing and counseling in the rural Rift Valley district of western Kenya, receives financial support and counseling training from ActionAid and technical training from the CDC. However, despite the efforts of the programs currently in place and a grant from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, antiretroviral drugs are still beyond the reach of most people in the country (Gidley, Reuters, 8/11).

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