Zipline, Elton John AIDS Foundation, and County Governments Collaborate to Tackle HIV Amongst Youth » Capital News

NAIROBI, Kenya Dec 2 – Zipline has joined forces with the Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF), in collaboration with the County Governments of Kisumu, Homa Bay, and Nyamira, to launch a groundbreaking program aimed at providing accessible and youth-friendly counseling, testing, and treatment for HIV.

This initiative is tailored to address the unique challenges of combating HIV infection among the youth in the region.

During World AIDS Day celebrations, Caleb Wanjala, the Lead for Community Participation at Zipline, highlighted a critical issue concerning the youth’s access to reproductive health and preventive services related to HIV. He pointed out that many young people are reluctant to visit healthcare facilities near their homes due to the stigma associated with HIV.

Wanjala emphasized, “The stigma associated with HIV has persisted since its discovery in Kenya, leading many to perceive the disease as a death sentence. Those infected often face condemnation from their families and communities, which has contributed to the fear of visiting local clinics.”

To address this challenge, the program combines youth-friendly services with activities that engage young people in environments they enjoy. By offering education on various aspects of prevention and care for those infected or at risk of infection, the initiative aims to reduce the stigma and encourage youth to seek help.

Wanjala elaborated on the program’s approach: “Counseling, testing, and treatment services are strategically moved away from traditional healthcare centers within hospitals to temporary social gathering places where young people frequently gather.”

“We organize football tournaments, actively involving young participants. These sporting events attract the target audience to various locations, where they can access the required services,” he added.

In this collaborative effort, Zipline plays a pivotal role by delivering essential supplies such as condoms, post-exposure prophylaxis (PEPP), and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PREPP) used to prevent HIV transmission. When the need arises for items like post-exposure prophylaxis during these mobile youth-friendly clinics, Zipline utilizes drone technology for efficient delivery.

Wanjala explained, “Our drug and supply stores are centrally located in Kisumu. When an order is placed, a drone is dispatched to transport the supplies from the warehouse to the facility where they are needed.”

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Nancy Kulei, the Sub-county AIDS Control Coordinator at Rangwe Sub-county in Homa Bay, highlighted the growing number of adolescents seeking care in the area. She praised the collaboration between partners and the County Government for their efforts in addressing HIV infection rates among the youth.

Kevin Osuri, the Homa Bay County Chief Officer, noted that this collaboration has yielded positive results, with infection rates declining to 15 percent, down from approximately 17 percent recorded in 2021. The commitment of all stakeholders in this initiative demonstrates a promising step forward in the fight against HIV among Kenya’s youth.

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