Academic journal article Bulletin of the World Health Organization

Women See Little Hope of Anti-Retroviral Treatment Yet. (News)

Academic journal article Bulletin of the World Health Organization

Women See Little Hope of Anti-Retroviral Treatment Yet. (News)

Article excerpt

Priscilla Atieno (real name withheld), a 30-year-old mother of six, tested HIV-positive in October last year. She seeks treatment at Nyalenda Health Centre in Kisumu, 380 kilometres West of Nairobi, Kenya. The health centre is 80 miles away from Karachuonyo, her home village.

"I first suspected I was HIV-positive when I started developing wounds and rashes on my body. I had persistent abdominal pains, vaginal itching and pain, and a swollen groin."

Priscilla has been told of antiretrovirals (ARVs) and occasionally gets them, but can't pay for them often enough to get a proper, continuous course of treatment. "I go to the health centre when I have money; otherwise I use herbal medicine whenever I am unwell." The result of this partial treatment--a story becoming common throughout Africa--could be the development of HIV that is resistant to the drugs.

Roseline Achieng, 29, is also HIV-positive. "I have heard of those drugs but personally I have not used them. I cannot use them because I cannot afford them. I hear that they can be harmful to me if I start and then stop using them because of lack of money." Her husband and her eldest and youngest child are also infected. Roseline says she seeks medication for opportunistic infections. "I get headaches often but go to the doctor immediately. For some infections like mouth thrush, I just chew garlic, and they go away."

For Dorine Odida, ARVs are impossible. She is a member of Women Fighting Aids in Kenya (WOFAK), a solidarity group for HIV-positive women. Her husband left her three years ago when she tested HIV-positive. He took with him their only son who is now five years old and uninfected. "I have heard of ARVs but since someone has to be on them for life, they are too costly," Dorine says. …

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