Mobilizing Youth against AIDS in Kenya
Maisha Youth Against AIDS is experience with vocational training of youth and its profound roots in the population in Kenya form the foundation of a program combining the fight against AIDS with short vocational courses for youth. A group of instructors and mobilizers moves around from Ward to Ward in each of Kenya’s 47 Counties and teach the youth about how to avoid HIV and at the same time gives them skills courses which will help them to earn a living in the informal or the formal sector.
Involving youths in prevention efforts educates them about HIV/AIDS and gives them a sense of responsibility and pride. With the right skills and information, youths can be very effective messengers for they speak the same language as the group they are trying to reach. MYAA runs training workshops in peer education. Young people get the opportunity to express their feelings, share their experiences, and build a sense of community. They learn to participate in decision-making, to make the right choices and judgments.
We are in process of operating in selected schools, religious organisation, in Kenya, help in facilitating, promoting, guiding and sustaining the little, but significant hard work
While we support cultural and religious values such as the commitment to faithfulness and abstinence, we recognize that in today’s multi-cultural society these ideals are strongly challenged and even seem unattainable. Globalization has brought with it a rather new system of “values” that are attractive to modern people. In such an unstable and confusing environment, MYAA tries to impart life skills to young people. These include skills in conducting negotiations, conflict resolution, critical thinking, decision-making, communication and assertiveness.
Such skills keep the youths well equipped to guard against some pseudo-cultural and pseudo-traditional practices
Youths are experiencing a rapid and perplexing change of values, attitudes and behaviour toward their parents, their peers and the opposite sex. In the context of rising age at marriage and increasing educational attainment, the lifestyles of middle-class urban youth are becoming more westernized. Popular media promote individual freedom. Premarital sex, pregnancy, abortion and STDs and HIV are on the rise.
We cannot choose the cultural context in which we live and operate from. But we do have some form of control about our personal choices and can choose what we want. At MYAA we therefore need to strive to make choices that will promote and sustain “an AIDS FREE and Responsible GENERATION”.
Youth and Health
It’s thought that only 10% of young men and 15% of young women living in sub-Saharan Africa know their HIV status. Increasing access to HIV testing is vital to prevent further transmission of HIV among young people. Mobile and community testing initiatives are a successful way of reaching young people who are less likely to voluntarily visit a static testing centre. HIV testing and counseling for young people has proved very successful as a form of HIV prevention in Eastern and Southern Africa.
MYAA we support talking One on one – with the goal of each person taking control, individually and together with others: not to become infected or not to spread the disease and to live a long and healthy life
What is HIV and AIDS?
- HIV is a virus that attacks the immune system. If untreated, a person’s immune system will eventually be completely destroyed.
- AIDS refers to a set of symptoms and illnesses that occur at the very final stage of HIV infection.
How HIV infects the body and the lifecycle of HIV
- HIV cannot multiply on its own.
- HIV attaches itself to an immune system ‘T-helper’ cell, fuses with it, takes control of its DNA, replicates itself inside the cell, and then releases new HIV into the blood.
- Different HIV treatment drugs stop the virus fusing, stop it integrating its genetic code, and stop it releasing new copies of itself into the bloodstream.
Symptoms and stages of HIV infection
- There are three stages of HIV infection.
- Stage 1 after initial infection can feel like flu, but not everyone will experience this.
- Stage 2 may last for 10 years or so, with no more apparent symptoms.
- Stage 3 is when the immune system has been so badly damaged that it can no longer fight off serious infections and diseases.
- The earlier you have HIV diagnosed and start treatment, the better your likely long-term health.
- Because many people do not have any symptoms for stages 1 and 2, HIV often gets transmitted from people who simply don’t know they are infected.
Is there a cure for HIV and AIDS?
- There is currently no cure for HIV, although antiretroviral treatment can control it.
- Most research is towards a ‘functional cure’ where HIV is reduced to undetectable and harmless levels permanently, but some residual virus may still be present in the body.
- Some research is looking for a ‘sterilising cure’ where all HIV virus is eradicated from the body, but this is more complex and risky.
- Trials of HIV vaccines are encouraging, but even once developed will only offer partial protection.