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A Must Read For Teachers: New Trends In Handling Learners Living With HIV And AIDS In Public Schools; Amidst An Upward Trend In New Infections Amongst The Adolescents & Young Adults-NACC 2022.

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A Must Read For Teachers: New Trends In Handling Learners Living With HIV And AIDS In Public Schools; Amidst An Upward Trend In New Infections Amongst The Adolescents & Young Adults-NACC 2022.

A Must Read For Teachers: Handling Learners Living With HIV And AIDS In Public Schools; Amidst An Upward Trend In New Infections Amongst The Adolescents & Young Adults-NACC 2022.

A Table Showing Counties With The Highest Positive Cases Among The Adolescents/ Young Adults( NACC 2021)
Homa Bay County
Nairobi County
Migori County
Kisumu County
Siaya County
2,389
2,374
1,516
1,308
1,092
The reality in our public schools is that we have learners living with HIV and AIDS. According to the National AIDS Control Council ( NACC 2021) data, the number of new infections among Adolescents is on an upward trend! This necessitates that teachers and the non-teaching staff at school rise to the occasion to make learners living with the virus thrive just like other children academically. Teachers must create a conducive environment for these learners at school by reminding them of their medication uptake in time, Providing the right diet to ensure that their health is not compromised, and ending the stigmatization of any sort! This has to be accompanied by appropriate sex education for the adolescents and effective counseling because research by the National AIDS Control Council( 2021) reveals that alcohol and drug abuse are among the leading risky behavior that predispose Adolescents to contract HIV!
It is in this line of thought that the National AIDS Control Council (NACC),  a state corporation in the ministry of Health tasked with the mandate of HIV response in Kenya has changed its approach to fighting HIV and AIDS in Public schools. The Council has seen the need to involve the teachers and the non-teaching staff in this noble task of mitigating the ravaging effects of AIDS.

Empowering The Teachers And The Non-Teaching Staff.

The Council in a bid to ensure that the learners living with the virus access timely HIV care, treatment, and support including clinic appointments, nutrition, and medication adherence is seeking to empower the teachers and the non-teaching staff.
This move that the Council intends to fully implement was discussed during a sensitization workshop of education stakeholders. This workshop involved the County Directors of Education(CDEs), representatives of school heads, the Ministry of Education’s Quality Assurance Officers, and the Teachers Service Commission officials on a human-centered design approach for Adolescents and Young People(AYP) programming in schools conducted between May 16, 2022, and May 20, 2022, NACC  emphasized on the need to avail HIV care, treatment, and support.
The workshop aimed at building the capacity of teachers to support learners affected and infected by HIV, as well as pregnant and breastfeeding learners by providing the much-needed psychosocial support. This can be achieved when the teachers become the link between the learner, the parent, and the respective health providers. All these are aimed at reducing stigma and discrimination in basic learning institutions.
All focal persons i.e teachers, nurses, matrons, and patrons have been advised to accompany learners living with HIV in attending scheduled and unscheduled clinics purposed to address prevention of opportunistic infections, collection of medicines, laboratory tests, psychosocial support, nutritional counseling, and support, general health assessment, and the very crucial follow-up visits.
The Council advises the teachers as focal persons to play the role of reminding the parents/ guardians and the learners to avail of the appointment dates to facilitate timely planning at the start of each term. This will make it possible for the learners not to miss any medical appointments or miss medical supplies.
The focal persons have been advised to grant permission to the specific learners and enable them to access the health providers. This can be achieved by the teachers notifying the parents/ guardians to accompany the learners to the health providers on time and in cases where the guardian is not available, the teachers have been requested to accompany these learners.

Role of Schools

NACC urges schools to familiarise themselves with the HIV and AIDS Prevention and Control Act (2006), whose objective and purpose is to partly Ensure the provision of basic health care and social services for learners infected with HIV and AIDS. This implies that schools should develop a directory of all the health facilities and institutions with whom they can work to facilitate support to learners.
Furthermore, schools have been urged to properly use the directory to forge networks for referral and linkage. The school leadership in consultation with the parents and guardians should confidently refer the learner for HIV Counseling and testing, clinical care, youth-friendly services, and the obvious sexual and reproductive health services.

Mind-Boggling Statistics

The latest data released by NACC reveals that the infection rates among the Adolescents and Young People have been on a steady increase since 2020, with the HIV situation in the country according to the 2020 UNAIDS estimates showing that out of a total of 87,208 adolescents aged between 10 and 19 years and living with HIV, there were 6,150 new infections.
Out of 142,161 young adults aged between 15 and 24 years living with HIV, there are 14,344 new infections. It is disturbing that in 2021, the number of adolescents and young adults who tested positive for HIV increased in at least 24 counties!
The data further reveals that adolescents aged between 10 to 14 years who tested positive were 1,588 from a total of 101,613 samples tested, while the number that tested positive among the adolescents aged between 15 to 19 years was 3,306 out of 460,917 samples tested.

The Following Is a Table Showing The Number Of Adolescents/Young Adults Living With HIV Per County( Source NACC)

Mombasa County
655
Nakuru
637
Kisii
606
Kajiado
597
Kiambu
579
Kakamega
509
Bungoma
406
Kilifi
359
Uasin Gishu
358
Machakos
344
Turkana
332
Nyamira
326
Meru
268
Trans-Nzoia
267
Kitui
261
Busia
258
Makueni
232
Narok
231
Kwale
211

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