NAIROBI (Xinhua) --
Sixty-nine year old Kenyan Josephine Naliaka lost one
of her daughters to HIV/Aids two years ago. Her another daughter,
who is currently bed-ridden, could succumb to the same disease in
the near future.
The elderly farmer who is taking care of five children blames
witchcraft for her daughter’s sickness and no amount of explanation
based on science will convince her otherwise.
Naliaka is torn between tending her small farm located at a remote
village in western Kenya and taking her ailing daughter to the
“I hear my daughter has that disease that kills but I don’t believe
it as I raised her in a morally upright manner. The same was said of
my other daughter who died in 2015 but I know my enemies are behind
my daughters’ suffering. I believe God will do his will, but for now
I am doing my best to raise their children,” Naliaka told Xinhua on
It is now over 30 years since the first case of HIV and Aids was
reported in Kenya but there are people like Naliaka who are yet to
be convinced the disease exists.
According to Augustine Odhiambo, an HIV expert, one of the reasons
why Kenya is yet to achieve zero infections despite all the
resources directed towards the war against the virus is ignorance
from sections of the populations who still don’t believe in the
existence of the HIV virus.
“As of how and why some sections of the population don’t believe in
the existence of the HIV virus is still a conundrum to even people
like me who have spent years raising awareness on the virus. There
is also a section of the population who are well aware of the virus
but they slip into denial whenever one of their own is infected,”
Odhiambo hopes a new initiative by stakeholders in the war against
HIV and Aids targeting women living with the virus will breathe
fresh hope in the fight against its spread which remains high among
women between 15 and 24 years.
The initiative involves large-scale clinical trials for an
injectable HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) among uninfected
Kenya is among other six African countries where trials of the new
long-acting injectable drug known as cabotegravir (CAB) will be
conducted among some 3,200 HIV-uninfected, sexually active women.
The first of its kind, the trial will be the first large-scale
clinical trial of an injectable medication for HIV prevention in
sexually active women aged 18 to 45 years.
If successful, Odhiambo told Xinhua the trials will give the war on
HIV the much needed boost as the greatest challenge remains
controlling new infections.
“We have done our best but success especially in preventing new
cases has eluded us. The trials to me are a new dawn in this war and
my hope is that after four and half years—the period under which the
trials will be conducted, we will have the answer to our question on
how to prevent new infections especially among women,” he added.
Notably, in sub-Saharan Africa, more than 60 per cent of all people
living with HIV are women.
According to Odhiambo, the development of safe alternative options
for PrEP could increase HIV prevention choices for women.
Over the past few years, Kenya has put its right foot forward in the
fight against HIV and Aids. The Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI)
is also carrying out antibody mediated prevention in which women are
given an anti-HIV antibody called VRC01 as an intravenous infusion
after every eight weeks to establish its safety and efficacy at
preventing HIV infection.
About 1,500 sexually active women aged between 18 and 40 have been
enrolled for the trials.