It is not in doubt that personal experiences of Persons Living with HIV(PLWHs) shape various HIV and Aids responses in Kenya. PLWHs directly encounter the factors that predispose communities to the vulnerability of HIV infection and the HIV- related ailments. Their proactive involvement significantly improves the effectiveness, relevance and acceptability of the HIV and Aids interventions in Kenya. It also breaks down the false and simplistic assumption that PLWHs are only ‘service receivers’ whereas those living without HIV and Aids are ‘service providers.’
NACC’s intentional engagement of PLWHs responds to the urgent need to scale up HIV and Aids responses to attain the wide-ranging benefits of universal access to care, treatment, support and prevention services. Through the Meaningful Involvement of People living with HIV & Aids (MIPA) program, the council incorporates various stakeholders that include the Civil Society, the County Governments, the public sector, the private sector, the faith sector and the development partners to enhance PLWHs inclusion in HIV and Aids response in Kenya.
At the individual level, MIPA aims at mitigating among other issues, self-esteem, isolation, depression and access to information on care and support for PLWHs. At organizational level, perception change, provision of knowledge and platforms for exchange of experiences has been encouraged.
In collaboration with the Network of Empowerment of People Living with HIV in Kenya (NEPHAK), NACC has facilitated and mobilized for the inclusion of PLWHs in key decision-making platforms, advocacy forums, local and international conferences, development of policies and guidelines including KASF 1 review and the subsequent development of KASF II, development of County AIDS implementation plans among others.
PLWHs are also involved in continuous capacity building to enhance their sustainability in areas of governance, strategy formulation and resource mobilization with a particular emphasis on networks that are led by women and the elderly people living with HIV. They have also been targeted as beneficiaries of sensitization programs on human rights, stigma, discrimination and the mandate of the HIV & Aids tribunal in increasing access to justice for PLWHs whose human rights have been violated.
Deliberately designed awareness programs on Non-Communicable Diseases especially in the wake of the novel Covid-19 which takes a huge toll on persons with compromised immunity.
The implementation of MIPA is overseen by the a 30-member Technical Working Group (TWG) that draws membership from key populations, PLWHs networks as well as women and youth networks. NACC seeks to operationalize MIPA TWGs at the county level to further enhance the participation of PLWHs at the grassroots.
Further, at conferences of various nature, the MIPA program secures opportunities for PLWHs to share their reflections, lessons, best practices and challenges they encounter in the course of HIV response.