The Star (Nairobi)

17 June 2012

Kenya: HIV Spread in Migori Blamed On Ignorance

The high infection rate of HIV among school going children in Migori county has been blamed on increased sexual activity with little sex education for pupils.

The high rate has also been blamed on adults who prey on school children thinking that they are safe and so do not use protection, Rieko Kenya, a local NGO has said.

Executive director Edward Kabaka and a Canadian NGO, Queen's Health Outreach, called for efforts to mitigate the effects of HIV. Kabaka made the remarks during celebrations to mark the Day of the African Child and the launch of a school-based health initiative in Migori county on Saturday. "We will be conducting HIV/Aids awareness in the local institutions and setting up Voluntary, Counselling and Testing centres with a view to reduce spread of the scourge by creating awareness among primary and secondary school children," Kabaka said. "We will also sensitise the residents on how to improve their food security and protect environment with an aim of reducing cases of children leaving school after getting HIV infection or pregnancy in the county," he added.

Kabaka said the programme was long overdue as young children engage in early sex in the region due to easy money available along the beaches of Lake Victoria from fishing, gold mining and tobacco farming. QHO official Meagan Hamilton said the initiative will avert drop-outs and help in improving retention of girls and boys in schools. "We hope that this programme will create leaders in schools and create a genuine interest and concern for health issues. A major focus is on HIV/AIDS awareness and sensitization. Empowering youth to make informed decisions about their health are the first steps in creating an HIV free world," said Hamilton.

The NGO have visited Mikei Primary, Mariba Primary, St Gorety Mikei Secondary and Radienya Primary, Masara Primary, Nyendema Primary, Masara Secondary, St Michael's Nyendema Secondary, Mariba Mixed Secondary, Miroche Primary and St Gabriel among others all in Nyatike district to mark the day. The celebration was attended by Nyatike constituency Aids Coordinator Luke Amayo and Tereza Dache, the principal St Gorety Mikei High school among other 2,000 students, parents and locals in Nyatike.

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