Did you know that in 1998, World AIDS Day became the first ever global health day that was marked by the World Health Organisation (WHO)? The primary focus on this day is serendipitously well suited to the significance of its cause. Even after 17 years, people unite around the world every year on the 1st of December to raise awareness of the AIDS pandemic and to help to fight against it. It is also a day to show support for those who silently suffer with HIV, and also show respect for those who have lost their lives to it. On this day you can wear a red ribbon as a symbol of support and awareness of those living with HIV. The 2015 campaign is all about rethinking HIV.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) there are 35 million people living with HIV/AIDS worldwide in 2013 and 1.5 million people died of AIDS related illness. The majority of people living with HIV are in low and middle income countries, particularly in sub Saharan Africa. 71% of all people living with HIV live in Sub- Saharan Africa. The HIV epidemic affects not the health of individuals but also households, communities, and the development and economic growth of countries. Most of the countries with great prevalence of HIV also suffer from other infectious diseases, food insecurity and many other problems.
However, there are promising and positive signs in the worldwide treatment of HIV/AIDS, particularly in developing countries. As of March 2015, 15 million people living with HIV were receiving antiretroviral treatment- 41% of those in need. 13.5 million of these people were in low and middle-income countries. New HIV infections have been reduced by 35% since 2000 and AIDS related deaths have been reduced by 42% since its peak in 2004.
AKF works with vulnerable people and those who have lifelong illnesses around the world, some of which have AIDS. For example, AKF’s community psychiatry project in Nairobi Mathari Hospital in October 2014 provided economic support to mental health facilities and has linked 72 such individuals to existing mental health facilities. We are able to pay monthly medical health insurance cover, transport costs, and trace family support and monitor patients, before helping them to integrate back into society.
One woman suffered from AIDS and AKF was able to provide for her psychological support. Here is her account of it:
“My name is Jane Nyambura, and I am 24 years old. 3 years ago, I was infected with the HIV after falling pregnant from rape, and the man rejected the pregnancy. I gave birth to twins, but lost one twin during delivery. I was tested as a HIV positive patient, but luckily my child was negative. I was left all alone, struggling to find someone to help me to pay off my Medical health insurance cover (nhif card). That is when I met with Al-Khair Foundation and they helped me by paying it and also with my other basic needs. After benefiting from the Mathari mental hospital, I went home and continued with my life in the year 2014. I am so grateful to Al-Khair Foundation, and appreciate their continued support.???- Jane Nyambura
Jane continues to benefit from accessing heath and psychological counselling, and her son benefited from post-natal services. Today she carries on managing her business, a salon for hair, after receiving some financial support from AKF. She is an example of a great success story for re-integration into to the community.
World AIDS day calls for solidarity with those who have suffered and continue to suffer from AIDs, as Jane has. Please support the UN fast track programme and also help us to provide support to those suffering from illnesses like HIV and AIDS in Kenya, and other countries around the world. Click here to donate to our health programme’s treatment for vulnerable people project.