Hundreds Tested for HIV/AIDS in Kenya
December 2, 2008—In Nakuru, Kenya, World AIDS Day marked an important event as more than 2,000 Kenyan residents lined up for HIV/AIDS testing. The testing was hosted by Nakuru United Methodist Church which engaged its leaders to be tested for the HIV/AIDS virus.
A Leadership Call
Medical staff from the Wesley Mission Health Center, an UMCOR-supported health project of the Nakuru UMC, conducted free HIV/AIDS testing and provided participating residents with much-needed health information and counseling. Local government officials, teachers, and church leaders including the Rev. Josam Kariuki, district superintendent of Nakuru UMC, were among those tested for the HIV virus. The church's involvement symbolized the importance of testing everyone and it encouraged the local congregation's participation in the event.
"Church leaders such as bishops, pastors and laity should all go for HIV testing," said Rev. Josam. "Every church, especially in Africa, should have a special day for testing their congregations."
Nakuru UMC expressed that the church is both infected and affected and that most people living with HIV end up in the church. The people come looking for hope and consolation, but when those infected die or become bedridden, it is the church that assumes responsibility for the orphans left behind. Currently, the church has registered 650 people living with HIV/AIDS through the Wesley Mission Health Center.
HIV/AIDS in Kenya
In Kenya, where the total population is around 37 million people, only 20 percent know whether or not they are HIV-positive. Four out of five Kenyans who are HIV/AIDS positive do not know their status. Contributing to lack of HIV awareness are social stigma, limited access to testing centers, or lack of education. Currently, about 1.8 million people in Kenya are reported having the HIV virus and the occurrence is almost twice as high among women as compared to men.
UMCOR Supporting Kenya
UMCOR has been working with Nakuru UMC since violence erupted following the Kenya elections in December, 2007. Through UMCOR assistance, Nakuru clinic staff provides free 24-hour medical care to over 26,000 displaced people, as well as provide school uniforms and books to over 2,500 orphans who are now enrolled in school because they have adequate supplies. UMCOR also helped Nakuru with medicines, mosquito nets, laboratory equipment, food supplies, and more.
During this World AIDS Day event, the Nakuru UMC received a recognition trophy from the Ministry of Health for the exemplary fight against HIV/AIDS in Nakuru district.
"We are very grateful to UMCOR and East Africa Annual Conference resident Bishop Daniel Wandabula for the continued support, " said Rev. Josam.
How You Can Help
Supporting HIV/AIDS work around the globe is a year-round event. You can help through your gifts to the United Methodist Global AIDS Fund, UMCOR Advance # 982345, or support the ongoing work in Kenya by giving to International Disaster Response, UMCOR Advance #982450.