HIV positive youth get alarm watches to boost ARV drugs use

At least 250 adolescents in Kisumu have received the devices.

In Summary

• Watches are fitted with an alarm system that reminds the wearers the time they should take a dosage. 

• Adherence to ARV drugs remains a major challenge making it difficult for youth to reduce the viral load.

Kondele MCA Joachim Okech during the launch of Winam Care Community-based Organisation in Kisumu
Kondele MCA Joachim Okech during the launch of Winam Care Community-based Organisation in Kisumu

An initiative by a Kisumu-based organisation is handing out alarm wristwatches to HIV positive adolescents to improve the use of anti-retroviral drugs.  

The alarms are set to go off whenever the wearers are supposed to take a dosage of their ARV regiment. 

Winam Care for Adolescents (Winamcaf) founder Claricentina Awuor said they have so far given out wristwatches to 250 adolescents in Kisumu.

Awuor, born HIV positive 25 years ago, said thousands of adolescents in the county succumb to HIV because they were not tested and put on ARVs on time.

She said that for those already on ARVs, adherence remained a major challenge making it difficult for them to reduce the viral load.

The 2014 Demographic and Health Survey, 2012 Kenya AIDS indicator Survey and the 2014 Basic Education Statistical Booklet, showed that 6.2 percent of adolescents (16-24) in Kisumu are HIV positive.

“This is three times the number of the national youth HIV prevalence which stands at two per cent,” Awuor said.

According to the National Aids Control Council, about 16,000 children in Kisumu are living with HIV. The area has a youthful population with people below age 15 making up 43 per cent. 

Kisumu Central HIV coordinator Dorothy Okech said Kisumu has among the highest HIV burden in the country with prevalence rate standing at 16 per cent.

Okech while launching the Winamcaf CBO at Kondele said adolescents (16-24) recorded the highest number of new infections in the area.

She said the county has made efforts in achieving 90 per cent viral suppression among people living with HIV. 

Okech said the initiative by Winam Care will boost adherence to ARV treatment to achieve 90 per cent viral suppression.

Kondele MCA Joachim Okech wants the county government to allocate funds to support the project.

“The county needs to support this program to enable all adolescents living with HIV are under treatment and given the wristwatches to enhance adherence,” he said.

Okech pledged that he will push for allocation of more funds through the assembly to help fight the disease among adolescents.

(edited by O. Owino)