As MAAYGO, we are compelled to express concern about a disparaging, regressive and alarmist story in the Sunday Standard newspaper (15 April 2018) headline “Gays make inroads in Kisumu”.
There was distortion of information in relation to healthcare provision, healthcare interventions and human rights advocacy for key populations in Kisumu. MAAYGO like all stakeholders in health share a collective responsibility to ensure compliance with government policies and guidelines on issues key population programming. The notion that young persons are recruited into gayism and lesbianism is truly upsetting. We share a commitment not only to prevent new HIV infections and re-infections, but also to advocate for health among the vulnerable groups.
The Standard team visited our clinic accompanied with one of our donors with a view to get some highlights on biomedical services including Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) provision among community service organizations involved in PrEP but reported otherwise. As MAAYGO, we are cognizant of the importance of reaching out to the ‘hard to find’ key populations with messages and other health services to support HIV/STI burden reduction. The resultant story, “Rising gay numbers alarm Nyanza” is clearly a demonstration for concerted efforts to sensitize the local media on the current health intervention strategies.
Together with various stakeholders including JHPIEGO – JILINDE Project, NRHS-AM, KASH, KISWA, NYARWEK, women working with women ( 3W) and Ministry of health (through the MOH, CASCO and SCASCO), we have had fairly positive discussions regarding the unfortunate
incident, and resolved to advocate sensitization for journalists, other professionals and the general population. We ask them to take advantage of the online ‘MSM sensitivity training’ that was launched on the World AIDS Day 2010. The website (www.marps-africa.org) is free, easily accessible and provides a better understanding of the MSM healthcare needs and reduction in homophobic attitudes.
We all agree that bad press coverage can reverse the gains so far achieved in the fight against HIV/AIDS epidemic in Kenya. Together with other stakeholders involved in healthcare provision, healthcare interventions and human rights advocacy for key populations in Kisumu, we have formed a communication technical working group to implement a communication protocol that will include technical assistance consultation, and a wide range of sensitizations and engagement.
We hereby reassure our implementing partners, clients and donors, and stakeholders that we are doing everything possible to ensure continued provision of services and to keep the situation under control by enlisting the support and goodwill of the county health management team, ministry of health and security team.