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From Participants to PMTCT Champions

Part of Mildmay International Kenya`s (MIK) work relates to contributing to the elimination of vertical transmission of HIV. To achieve this, MIK works with groups of Women Living with HIV (WLHIV) to mobilize their peers to attend the structured dialogue sessions to receive health education on non-communicable diseases with a focus on cervical cancer, SRH and Gender-based violence to create demand during the comprehensive community outreaches to improve the uptake of SRH related services not limited to   HIV testing, antenatal and postnatal care, screening and treatment for STI. However, at the start-up, there presented a challenge in mobilizing groups of WHIV since most of the groups had since become dormant and stopped meeting frequently. The focus had also shifted more to economics than psychosocial support.

Nyabomo Women groups is one such group that was established by WLHIV champions linked to- Msare Health Centre and Suba Sub County Hospital following one of the structured dialogue sessions. With a current membership of 42, they meet monthly to discuss and understand Anti-Retroviral treatment, adherence, how to overcome stigma, the importance of disclosure, eMTCT, nutrition, Sexual & Reproductive Health (SRH), and Human Rights &Gender. Most importantly is that they are able to share the challenges they face and get to come up with solutions that have worked for others. To simplify it, the members have each other’s back. They share, laugh and eat together during their monthly meetings.

The group has made great strides. Some members who experienced stigma and opted to register for treatment and care services at facilities located far away such as Homabay Referral Hospital have sought transfers to Msare Health Centre. Today, the women hardly miss their appointments due to the cost of transportation. They currently receive their medication during their meetings as they have similar clinic appointment dates- a differentiated care model that supports adherence for those who are considered stable and achieved viral suppression. The group has supported 2 members who had not started their ART because of denial to enroll ad eventually achieve viral load suppression an indicator of improved adherence. Additionally, 2 members who were experiencing intimate partner violence as a result of  ART treatment have been supported  further improving their treatment outcome. The group has greatly achieved its objective of supporting the members in adherence, retention to care, and disclosure.

The group members have also invested in food security by ensuring that everyone has a kitchen garden to supplement their nutritional needs as it is one of the factors that inhibits adherence. Currently one of their members is being supported by Mildmay International Kenya as an expert mother who support her peers in eliminating vertical transmission of HIV. Furthermore she also mobilizes her peers to go for routine cervical cancers screening, as they are at an increased risk of developing he same.

The group has plans to initiate income-generating activities and as such has gone ahead to register a group and has been issued with a certificate.

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