When she first learnt that she had contacted the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) 28 years ago, Francisca Ingosi thought her world would crush since myths associated with the virus by then were frightening.
Ms. Ingosi said she knew her deceased husband who was a soldier was responsible for the infection owing to his waywardness that saw him engage in extramarital affairs with women within Tuwan area in Kitale.
“My husband passed on in 1993 leaving me with a double burden of raising our kids and managing the AIDs infection which made me the talk of the slum where I was avoided by the people I knew,” she spoke in an interview.
Mrs. Ingosi who was by then a community health worker, gained courage and enlisted for a healthcare management programme at the then Kitale District Hospital (now Kitale County Hospital) to contain the viral infection,” said Mrs. Ingosi.
She said her strict adherence to a medical schedule prescribed by medics at the health facility paid dividends with her condition stabilizing to the surprise of locals who knew she could not live beyond five years after her husband’s death.
“I know several people who died because they failed to follow the guidelines with regard to taking drugs. The journey is not easy for those living in denial since their viral load is high,” observed Mrs. Ingosi.
She however noted that most people who live with the virus from poor backgrounds have a tough challenge in accessing the right diet that is required to boost the body’s immunity with some having been deserted.
“Stigmatization is a major setback among patients living with HIV. Whenever drugs run out of stock it also becomes a challenge since it interferes with the prescribed cycle of medication,” she noted.
The chairperson of the Kenya Network of Positive Teachers (KENPOTE) Trans Nzoia chapter Ms Janerose Wanjala said a failure by most people who are infected to seek treatment has greatly affected their health conditions.
“The first step to conquering this virus is coming out in the open to seek medical management. Some travel to far places for fear of stigmatization which is still a major issue,” noted Ms Wanjala.
Mr. Meshack Wakwabubi who is also infected advised some patients who have resorted to herbal medication to contain the virus saying antiretroviral treatment is the only efficient way to manage the disease which has no cure yet.