In a community where AIDS is still viewed as a death sentence, an Anglican priest is working to build an HIV-aware church.
Rev Rahab Wanjiru, 46, has the credibility to help dispel the dangerous silence that surrounds the virus and combines with stigma, discrimination and denial in Lamuria, a remote region about 193 kilomtres from Nairobi.
That’s because Rev Wanjiru has the virus herself.
“Every time I preach in church or speak to the community, I make sure that I teach something about the HIV/AIDS,” she said. “Most people here are ignorant about the virus, but I tell the congregations that there is much hope, even when one has HIV.”
About 1.6 million Kenyans are living with HIV in a population of about 42 million. About 900,000 are on anti-retroviral drugs, according to the National AIDS Control Council. Despite major progress, HIV/AIDS remains one of Kenya's most significant public health challenges.
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