Migori tournament to end HIV/AIDS prevalence

By Nicholas Anyuor

Migori County and Zambian governments, through the support of the National AIDS Control Council (NACC) have launched a programme designed to fight stigma and enhance HIV testing services and information among the youth through football tournaments.

Dubbed Maisha County League, the initiative targets youth aged between 15-24 years and seeks to mobilise young people across the county for a campaign to kick out HIV stigma and to link the youth to stigma-free HIV testing, treatment and care.

Governor Okoth Obado, while launching the project at Migori Primary School Sports Ground, said the initiative is using football to mobilise young people of Migori to spread the anti-stigma message through football for both boys and girls.

“Through this, the county shall reach all the 40 wards in the county. We jointly endeavor to support county health services to deliver better health for all with a focus on cost effective and socially inclusive interventions to prevent and manage HIV and AIDS,” Obado said.

Migori County, according to the Governor still bears one of the heaviest HIV burdens in Kenya with its prevalence reading 14.7 per cent as compared to the national average of 6 per cent, with the county ranking four nationally, after Homa Bay, Kisumu and Siaya counties.

Currently, there are 1968 new infections annually among adolescents and young people aged 15-24 years in Migori County. However, Obado said, “Despite this huge burden, a lot of progress has been made in interventions targeted at mitigating against HIV/Aids. My government is committed to reduce the infections rate to 1181 by the end of next year.”

Meanwhile, Zambian government will work with Migori County government in the fight against stigmatization that is said to have interfered with the progress made in fight against HIV/Aids.

Zambian High Commissioner to Kenya, Brenda Muntemba-Sichilemba said the partnership will ensure the League is a success and stigmatization among infected youth in Migori is reduced.

“It is important to note that African problems should be solved by Africans themselves. We shall remain strong to ensure stigmatization is reduced because it has led to many cases of death among our youth,” she said.

NACC Director, Dr Nduku Kilonzo said the rate of HIV infection in Migori County has reduced by 20 per cent and appealed to the county government to continue developing more interventions to reduce infection cases.

She urged governors across the county to consider youths in the fight against HIV/Aids in efforts to reduce stigmatization among the infected.

The main areas of interventions in the Migori initiative will include; HIV testing services, antiretroviral therapy and elimination of mother to child transmission.