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HIV status of childhood friend inspired woman’s career

The last born in a family of three, Doreen Agina knew quite early what career she wanted to pursue. She was a ‘daddy’s girl’ who grew up watching her father, a clinical officer in Kisumu, help restore bright smiles on the faces of sick children.

However, her passion to work with people living with HIV started in 1995 when a close friend was diagnosed with the virus.

She was 12 years old when she found out about her friend, and, wise beyond her years, she encouraged her friend to go for treatment and even accompanied her to hospital.

“I used to hear people say, if a person with HIV took treatment they could live longer,” she recalls.

CLINICAL MEDICINE

Ten years later, she inched closer to her dream when she enrolled for a diploma course in clinical medicine at the Kenya Medical Training College in Kisumu.

Every time they went to hospital for practical sessions, Doreen visited the HIV clinics to see how they dispensed antiretroviral drugs.

Her dream came true when Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF) recruited her to support the ministry of health’s effort to combat HIV in Homa Bay.

When she was first posted there, her responsibility was at the outpatient department. But she followed her passion and asked to work in the patient support centre for people with HIV.

Today, Doreen works with HIV patients in Kandiege sub-district hospital’s clinic for HIV-positive patients. Her childhood friend, whom she supported at the age of 12, is still alive and healthy.

NORMAL LIFE

For Doreen, seeing her friend recover and live a normal life cemented her belief that one did not have to die of HIV in this day and age.

Half of people with HIV on care in Homa Bay access HIV care services through the EGPAF-supported sites.

The World Health Taking Stock Report identifies serious shortage of health workers — the people on the front line of the efforts to prevent and treat HIV infection — as a key barrier to universal access to HIV services.

EGPAF supports 74 health care workers of different cadres in Homa Bay’s four sub-counties of Rangwe, Rachuonyo, Ndhiwa and Homa Bay, to help combat HIV.