Global Politics

Kenya's HIV challenge

This team of Kenyan health workers set out in search of an HIV patient, a woman who hadn't come to the clinic to pick up her anti-AIDS medicines. The woman had left her home and neither was her family at her home because their village had been burned and the family fled. According to government estimates, the violence that broke out after December's disputed elections has displaced thousands of HIV-positive Kenyans and locating those people will be extremely difficult, but critical. Some of those problems are already apparent at a Doctors Without Borders clinic in this slum. But stopping and restarting anti-retroviral medicines can be dangerous, says this doctor. If patients develop resistance they must turn to a second line of medicines, which often carry more side effects and cost much more. If many Kenyans develop a need for them, it could overwhelm the budget for AIDS medicines in Kenya. So there has been a huge program launch to prevent that from happening, but sometimes unforeseen challenges have thwarted those efforts. This woman who needs AIDS medicines suffers from the fact that her camp was shut down. Many need to take their medicines with foods and when food can't be found, it makes taking the medicines difficult. Across Kenya, AIDS experts say the election violence crisis left them unprepared. But this could happen again in Africa or elsewhere. There are even concerns about the AIDS virus spreading to the larger population if the virus becomes resistant to drugs.