Kenya: Bringing Home-based HIV Counseling and Testing to Western Kenya (May 2009)

Health at Home/Kenya, a public-private partnership that provides home-based HIV counseling and testing, aims to reach two million people in western Kenya with their services over the next two years.

Launched in January 2009, this groundbreaking initiative is supported by the Government of Kenya; the Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria (GBC); and the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).

Health at Home/Kenya works to bring HIV counseling and testing, TB screening, and malaria bed nets to remote households in western Kenya that have difficulties accessing health care.

In order to ensure success, Health at Home/Kenya nurses and counselors enter homes with hand-held devices that they use to enter data regarding the family's health, record test results, and document the physical location of the household to guarantee education, counseling and data collection follow-up. Any person identified as HIV-positive during counseling and testing will immediately be given an appointment for follow-up clinical care.

In addition to reaching HIV-positive individuals and connecting them with the appropriate services, the program also helps those who test negative for HIV by teaching them about HIV/AIDS prevention and encouraging them to implement practices that will allow them to remain HIV-free.

With as many as 70 percent of Kenyans unaware of their HIV status, program implementers hope this initiative will play a large role in increasing the number of individuals that know their status.

"This initiative will result in hundreds of thousands of people being successfully tested for HIV and, if positive, being immediately referred into care and treatment," said Dr. Sylvester N. Kimaiyo, a program manager for the Health at Home/Kenya initiative. "We will not win the AIDS battle by waiting for people to come to our clinics, but only by taking HIV testing to people's homes in Africa. This same model can effectively test and treat millions throughout Africa."

The U.S. Mission in Kenya also has high hopes for this initiative.

"Our PEPFAR program is honored to support this work that will contribute so directly both to the Government of Kenya priority of universal knowledge of HIV status as well as enrolling people in care far earlier in the disease process so they stay healthier longer," said Michael E. Ranneberger, U.S. Ambassador to Kenya.

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