'Getting to the Heart of Stigma' stakeholder engagement meeting in Nairobi
The International AIDS Society (IAS), National Empowerment Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS in Kenya (NEPHAK) and Partners for Health and Development in Africa (PHDA) organized the Getting to the Heart of Stigma Stakeholder Engagement meeting on 12th April 2022 at Crowne Plaza Hotel, Nairobi. The purpose of the meeting was to disseminate the findings of national studies exploring stigma and discrimination against people living and affected by HIV in Kenya and to seek commitment from policy makers and programme designers to address stigma and discrimination in a comprehensive, inclusive and integrated way.
Findings from two studies were presented. Peter Odonyo from NEPHAK presented the findings of the Stigma Index Survey conducted by the organization in 2021. Pascal Macharia represented PHDA and presented the Getting to the heart of stigma study conducted with people living and affected by HIV with special focus on key populations.
Some of the key themes that emerged from the studies included high prevalence of self-stigma and health care stigma, need to address vulnerabilities due to intersectionality of stigma with sexuality, livelihood, age, gender identity, drug use and the need for implementation of policies and laws to prevent stigma and discrimination. It was also shared the measurement of stigma and scaling up stigma prevention and reduction programmes should be prioritized.
Merab Ogunah from NEPHAK and Joyce Adhiambo from PHDA shared their very inspiring journeys of living with HIV in the last 20 years.
The meeting ended with a panel discussion with panelists including Dr. Ruth Masha from NACC, Dr. Medhin Tsehaiu from UNAIDS, Maxwell Marx from PEPFAR, Patricia Macharia from NASCOP, Allan Maleche from KELIN, Peter Odonyo from NEPHAK and Samuel Githaiga from Key Population Consortium. Daughtie Ogutu moderated the discussion and engaged the panelist to understand their commitment towards ending stigma and discrimination in Kenya.
“If communities provide services, that will significantly reduce the HIV related stigma and discrimination. We are working very closely under the leadership of the government to increase community response and monitoring as this can be a model for other countries; Kenya is doing it, but it has to be done globally.” Dr. Medhin Tsehaiu, UNAIDS.