Perspectives on Priorities

Ann

Ann's perspective 

Kikopey, Kenya - My name is Ann and I am 36 years old. I don’t think that people who are HIV positive here at the Vumilia Internally Displaced Persons Camp are getting enough help. 

I am a mother to eight children aged between 3 and 15. My husband doesn’t have a job, just like most people here. We are from the Kikuyu tribe, and were forced to leave our homes after the post-election violence in 2007–2008. We lost 3 children, our home and our small farm. The government gave affected families 10,000 KSH and we bought this land. We’re still living in the same tents. We have one double bed that we all share.

There are no jobs here. People spend their time looking, others do some small farming on the land, but it’s not enough to live on.

I don’t know how I became HIV positive. I have always been faithful, but my husband used to go to other provinces looking for jobs, so I can’t talk for what he did there.  I found out last year in June. My husband had known he was positive for two months but hadn’t told me.

Anyone can find themselves in this situation, so people shouldn’t judge. I don’t want people at Vumilia to know because I’m scared of stigma. I think they will hate me. People here are scared of it. They might not like me to live here if they knew about my status.

I go to the Gilgil Hospital once a month to get ARVs. It’s an hour and a half walk away. It’s a government clinic, a big hospital with good facilities, but sometimes things like medicine run out.

The staff are mainly kind and friendly. The ARVs are free. But the thing is, they ask for money for re-testing and other medication, which they often don’t have. They want the money for blood tests because the ARVs I take depend on different blood levels.

It’s 200 shillings for each blood test and they happen every 3 or 6 months. I know they are necessary. But if we don’t have the money we are sent home to get it and come back. It’s a long walk, and sometimes I just don’t have the money.

My children were tested and all but the youngest were negative. We didn’t have enough money last week for his blood tests. I think I might take him to hospital because every night he gets a fever. But I’m not sure if we have enough money for a prescription if they don’t have the medicine there.

I don’t think that people who are HIV positive here are getting enough help. Most of the time we depend on food from the government, but that is never enough so often we go without. We get a small portion of beans and maize, once every three months. I should take my ARVs with food. But if there’s no food I just take them anyway.

There are some parts of the country where people are given porridge and some food, but the people here all they get is the maize and nothing more. It’s not enough, because we’re also dealing with all of our troubles as IDPs. 

We need support from the government so that we’re not living in tents any more. We need better housing and access to jobs. I wish there were grants to start small businesses. Then we could maintain our health by buying good food so our medicine could work better.

Based on an interview with Alexi O’Brien in 2011.

 

Health Systems