We believe that the end of AIDS is possible if there is more focus on key populations. Our project in Kenya addresses barriers faced by the PWUD community related to their sexual and reproductive health and rights. Driven by community champions, we work to realize stronger engagement of PWUD in decision-making processes and research; a more positive and enabling legal, political and economic environment for PWUD; and more equal access to health services, especially harm reduction, TB and Hep. C services and HIV and STI services.
Unemployment, abuse and violence
Though Kenya is the regional trade and finance hub for East Africa, it is classed by the World Bank as a low-income country and has a low ranking on the Human Development Index (HDI). There are approximately 1,500,000 people living with HIV in Kenya. Across the 47 counties in the country, HIV prevalence ranges from 2% or less to as high as 26%. HIV prevalence is 18.7% for PWUD.
The Kenya National AIDS Strategic Plan includes commitments to provide services tailored to the needs of PWUD community. Furthermore, both the National Aids and STI Control Programme and the National Aids Control Council allow for PWUD advocates to inform the national HIV response. However, outside provision of services, there has been very little progress on larger contextual issues affecting key populations, such as decriminalisation or controlling violence and abuse perpetuated by police. Arrests, other forms of intimidation, and physical violence perpetrated by the police affect 57% of PWUD.
PWUD claim a right-based HIV and SRHR response
Bridging the Gaps works with a Theory of Change approach. A Theory of Change is a description of a list of events that is expected to lead to a particular desired outcome. It is a visualization how change is believed to happen. In 2016, representatives of the PWUD community developed a specified Theory of Change that consists of short-,medium, and long term outcomes. The Theory of Change describes how we plan to realize stronger engagement of PWUD in decision-making processes and research; a more positive and enabling legal, political and economic environment for PWUD; and more equal access to health services, especially harm reduction, TB and Hep. C services and HIV and STI services.
Through innovation and by building on previous work, we will strengthen civil society organisations’ ability to:
1. We facilitate community development
- Building capacity of PWUD on proposal writing and providing linkages to institutions for start-up capital.
- Organizing family forums, enrolling and mentoring parents in the methadone programme.
- Providing prevention for vulnerable youth through training and mentoring their parents.
- Disseminating IEC harm reduction materials targeting women who use drugs, people staying at drug dens and in prison.
- Capacity strengthening in the form of policy development, governance, representation in Global Fund process advocacy activities, including emphasis on gender.
- Establishing a women’s network within KeNPUD.
2. We advocate for the continuously strengthening of services and upholding human rights
- Promoting drug policy and a legal framework for scaling up financial sustainability of harm reduction services to PWUD.
- Communicating and engaging in advocacy with politicians, the judiciary, law enforcement and media to gain more support of harm reduction work.
3. We deliver inclusive, rights-based and gender sensitive services
- Providing pharmaceutical drugs (antibiotics, anti-malaria, analgesia, sedatives, antidepressants) and non-pharmaceutical drugs (screening kits, HIV rapid test kits, STI test kits, speculum, stand lamp, forceps, sterile gauze).
- Providing comprehensive health care services to PWUD at the DIC, in prison and at the drug dens.
- Providing nutrition support and social services.
- Supporting outreach workers in meeting their own basic health and safety needs.
Our project builds on the strong advocacy work of our partners KENPUD, MEWA, Omari Project, Alma Jaya University and SAPTA to put PWUD’s health issues on the political agenda and get them included in national plans. Their work is internationally supported by Mainline and INPUD.