Peer educators’ passion for sensitizing adolescents to embrace PrEP

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Trezer Odhiambo,25, and Brenda Odhiambo Odera are full of passion and zeal to sensitize young adolescents and women to the much-needed HIV Self-Testing Kit through their community work.

They have developed a gradual intrinsic interest in imparting knowledge to the many vulnerable young girls who are slum-dwellers on a wide range of issues to do with Sexual Reproductive Health.

‘‘One of the reasons as to why I became a peer educator is because I come from Manyatta slums in Kisumu Central, and so many girls are vulnerable on issues to do with sexual reproductive health,’’ Brenda said.

In this way, they have been able to link the young girls with health services that they didn’t know which has proved to be counterproductive.

She adds that when she found the platform to be trained and learn more about sexual reproductive health, she made it an initiative to work with these young girls, show, lead and be like a mentor to them.

Young girls are like flowers and we need to water them with information on Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis(PrEP), train them to know that these things are available, where to find and use them

Brenda Odera

Reproductive health

The KEMRI-CDC trained peer educator notes that young girls don’t know where to find sexual reproductive health commodities and learn the available family planning methods.

 Brenda further notes that it’s good and interesting to work with young girls because they are a more fragile group that needs to be handled well to avoid mishaps.

“Young girls are like flowers and we need to water them with information on Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis(PrEP), train them to know that these things are available, where to find and use them,’’ she explained as she informed that they are currently working with an age group of 16-30.

This group, Brenda said, are interesting as they got to co-share and learn from each other.

The young girls fear going for PrEP in health facilities because most people will start to bad-mouth them believing that they have gone for ARVs

Brenda Odera

Stigma

Some of the major challenges that they face while dealing with communities are the lack of adequate information and stigmatization on health matters around PrEP

She observes that some people think that PrEPs are ARVS and are not well educated on these things which leads to young girls failing to embrace the noble initiative.

‘‘The young girls fear going for PrEP in health facilities because most people will start to bad-mouth them believing that they have gone for ARVs,’’ she clarified.

Brenda advises the young girls that knowledge is power and they need to be secure and informed on health measures like family planning and PrEP

Girls from these neighbourhoods, she avers mostly drop out of school due to abject poverty, lack of school fees, and early pregnancies.

‘‘These things happen because they don’t have the knowledge and as a slum dweller, I have first-hand tips on how to address the situations coupled with my training as a peer educator,’’ Brenda elaborated.

Brenda says that she is happy whenever young girls come to the health facilities to make inquiries on PrEP and family planning methods which signals that they have taken charge of their lives.

Affirming this position, Trezer informed that growing up, she has ever-loved working with young women and girls because they are very vulnerable and someone needs to let help them know about HIV/AIDS invention.

‘‘It is this age bracket of 15-30 where they realize their self-identity and get exposed to multiple sex partners for some favours due to peer pressure from their friends,’’ she said.

This exposure to unprotected sex, Trezer observes leads to the contraction of HIV by young girls and even getting a male sponsor as they try to fit in their social circles.

My training has passionately driven me to save young girls who lack information and peer-to-peer interactions leads to personal disclosures which they can’t share with their parents, siblings and even their boyfriends

Trezer Odhiambo

Sensitization

Through sensitization, she continued that they have been able to rescue so many young girls by giving them information and are now able to safely take charge of their health matters.

‘‘My training has passionately driven me to save young girls who lack information and peer-to-peer interactions leads to personal disclosures which they can’t share with their parents, siblings and even their boyfriends,’’ Trezer elaborates.

Halima Fauzia, HIVTS Provider and Counsellor at Chulaimbo Sub-County where majorly deals with HIV testing and counselling to all the clients who visit the facility for treatment.

Majority of the clients who are visiting the facility are female clients. It is so hard to reach their male counterparts, so we give the female clients the self-test kits to reach out to their sexual partners or husbands at home

Halima Fauzia

Fauzia reveals that they have different HIV test kits like HIV Self-Test kits, the Determine and Fast Response which they distribute in their facility to all clients who visit.

‘‘Majority of the clients who are visiting the facility are female clients. It is so hard to reach their male counterparts, so we give the female clients the self-test kits to reach out to their sexual partners or husbands at home,’’ she said adding that they also do a follow-up to know whether the kits were used and get both positive and negative results.

After the self-test, Fauzia notes that they call back the clients to do the test using the National Algorithm and use their core principle of asking for a person’s consent, assuring them of the confidentiality of the testing and making appropriate referrals and linkages based on the results,’’ she explained.

The HIV self-test kits, she observes are made for those who cannot reach the health facilities and helps them get many people tested and improves HIV Counselling and Testing.

Mostly, our clients give us the wrong numbers and most of the phone numbers they registered on the form don’t go through

Halima Fauzia

Fauzia further revealed that at their health facility, they normally have an annual target of reaching 1,000 people and last year they surpassed their HIV Self-Test kits use target.

The major challenge we normally face is the follow-up of the clients because we give the kits with the intention of getting feedback.

“Mostly, our clients give us the wrong numbers and most of the phone numbers they registered on the form don’t go through,’’ she decried.

Science cafe

The trio made the remarks during a  Media for Environment, Science, Health and Agriculture in Kenya (MESHA) Science Caffe presentation to the Maseno University students, medical researchers and lake region journalists in an event held at their Siriba Campus.

In this way, she notes that most young girls have been receptive to the PrEP lessons and the side effects apart from condoms.

According to Trezer, young girls normally disclose that the majority of their boyfriends and partners are always reluctant to go to the hospital for HIV/AIDS Self Testing.

For over two years, the two peer educators have been working at the Kisumu County and Referral Hospital and Lumumba Sub-County Hospital. In this way, she notes that most young girls have been receptive to the PrEP lessons and the side effects apart from condoms.

Some of the achievements they have made so far are by instilling the requisite knowledge in young girls and women in order to take charge of their personal health.

To their satisfaction, the young girls always call them back for more consultations to save their lives and be more aware of their status.

‘’I would like to advise young girls out there that HIV/AIDs is real and they should take the preventive measures very seriously. They should strive for healthy living which makes them accountable for their health, and lifestyle and getting to test themselves at any opportune time kujijua na kujitambua,’’ she said.

Austine Ogalo
Austine Ogalohttp://www.lakeregionbulletin.co.ke
Lake Region Bulletin is your one stop multi-media platform for news and stories from the Lake Region counties of Kisumu, Siaya, Homabay ,Migori, Siaya, Kissi,Nyamira, Vihiga, Kakamega, Busia, Bungoma, Trans Nzoia, Nandi, Kericho and Bomet email:ogalo@lakeregionbulletin.co.ke austineogalo02@gmail.com

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