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Citizen Weekly

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Alarm over high HIV rates among teachers

The national anti-Aids agency has raised the alarm over the rising number of teachers contracting HIV.
The National Aids Control Council yesterday revealed that about 13,000 teachers were infected with the virus last year alone.
According to the Kenya Medical Research Institute, 3,000 teachers die of Aids every year.
The council blamed the rise in HIV infections on wife inheritance, sexual immorality, stigma and poverty.
Speaking during the launch of the Kenya Network of HIV Positive Teachers (Kenepote) in Kisumu Tuesday, the council’s regional coordinator Jevonce Magak asked the Teachers Service Commission to address the matter.
“We are working on reducing stigma among HIV positive teachers by 75 per cent,” he said.
Mr Magak said stigma and discrimination in the workplace were preventing teachers from accessing services and support.
In Kisumu County, the report says, more than 80 teachers died of HIV-related complications last year.
While giving their stories since they tested HIV positive, the teachers cited various challenges including stigma and discrimination as the major cause of premature deaths caused by HIV and Aids-related complications.
Ms Margaret Achesa, a physics and mathematics teacher at Lions High School in Kisumu, said a colleague at a different school was interdicted because of absenteeism.
“The case is being handled by our employer but I must admit that HIV positive teachers have walked a long mile to be accepted in the society,” said Ms Achesa.
She recalled how she underwent discrimination at another school when she was first diagnosed with HIV in 2004. The widow said she decided to go public about her status, adding that now her colleagues had started accepting her health situation.
“Teachers don’t have a fallback mechanism. They need to be supported to be productive in class,” said Mr Edward Olando, Kenya Union of Teachers, Kisumu County chairman.
Mr Paul Angira, the chairman of Kenepote in Kisumu, said the organisation was encouraging more teachers to disclose their HIV status and seek assistance to enable them to improve their productivity in class.