Sub-Saharan Africa has been hit very hard by the AIDS pandemic. There are over 30 million Africans infected with HIV/AIDS.Aids in Africa Kenya has been one of the countries most widely impacted by the disease. In Kenya, there have already been 250,000 AIDS related deaths and there are currently 1.6 million people infected with HIV, which is 6% of the population (2012, est).

The statistics are even more severe in the rural regions surrounding Lake Victoria. The Lake Region, and specifically Mbita District, has the highest infection rate in all of Kenya! Mbita’s HIV infection rate is approximately 33% of the overall population (2013 est). 20% of the children under the age of 15 are also infected.

LAKE VICTORIA and HIV/AIDS
The regions surrounding Lake Victoria, largely populated by the Luo tribe, have a higher infection rate largely due to the fishing industry, but also a few tribal traditions.

Fishing:
The people living around Lake Victoria have adapted to fishing as a means of survival. Many fishermen in this area have a “sex for fish” mentality. The fishermen bring their catch to various fishing beaches where women (mostly widowed women or others in dire need for a way to make a living) come to the beaches to purchase the fish and then sell in town. Many fisherman demand sexual favors in return to have the ability to purchase their fish. Preventative protection (i.e. condoms) is seldom considered.
Read more about this issue from a great BBC article. (hyperlink: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-26186194)

HIV/AIDS is escalated by poverty, promiscuity, and many cultural traditions which have affected the Luo tribe more than others in Kenya.

Sexually Promiscuous Areas:
The area around Mbita and the rural villages around Lake Victoria is a very sexually promiscuous area. In these locations, 90% of the youth (ages 15-25) become sexually active at a young age, proving to be a fertile ground for spreading the disease. Also, 60% of the adult population admit to having a Sexually Transmitted Disease, but have done nothing about it. Preventative protection (against STDs or pregnancy) is seldom considered.

Tribal Traditions:
Traditionally, Luos don’t practice circumcision among men, which has proved to be a major factor in transmission of HIV. In recent years, many health organizations have started campaigns to educate people on the positive affects of male circumcision.

Luos also strongly believe in polygamy (multiple wives.) Although this practice is decreasing, it has been a huge reason for the spread of HIV. It has long been a pattern of thought, in Luo culture, that the more wives you have and the more children you have, the more successful and important you are. This traditional belief is slowly dying as the younger generations become more educated to the negative effects and challenges of polygamy.

Dowrys are still received by families of the bride, which give husbands the sense of ownership over their wives. Along with this, the Luos also practice wife inheritance. When a husband dies, the wife still belongs to the family and so she is passed on to the brothers. If one brother dies of HIV/AIDS, there is a strong chance that his brothers will also become infected, because the deceased brother’s wife is now living with the brother.

Until these traditions are stopped, the rate of infection will continue to increase among the Luo tribe.

Resource and more information: http://www.avert.org/hiv-aids-kenya.htm

Aids in Kenya poster

The greatest consequence of the HIV/AIDS pandemic has been leaving a generation of children without parents. The number of orphans in Sub-Saharan Africa has been exponentially growing in recent years. Currently, there are over 13 million children world-wide who have lost at least one parent to AIDS and 3.5 million children who have lost both parents. In Kenya, there are over 1 million orphans because of this disease.

It is hard to overemphasize the trauma and hardship that children affected by HIV/AIDS are forced to bear. The epidemic not only causes children to lose their parents or guardians, but sometimes their childhood as well. As parents and family members become ill, children take on more responsibility to earn an income, produce food, and care for family members. It is harder for these children to access adequate nutrition, basic health care, housing and clothing. These children are even more vulnerable as they are made to live with extended family members (an elderly grandmother, aunt/uncle, older sibling or a second wife to their father), and some children are also left on their own as child-headed families.

A decline in school enrolment is one of the most visible effects of the epidemic. This in itself will have an effect on HIV prevention, as good, basic education ranks among the most effective and cost-effective means of preventing HIV.

There are numerous barriers to school attendance in Africa. Children may be removed from school to care for parents or family members, or they may themselves be living with HIV. Many are unable to afford school fees and other such expenses – this is particularly a problem among children who have lost their parents to AIDS, and often struggle to generate income.

Studies have suggested that young people with little or no education may be twice as likely to contract HIV as those who have completed primary education.

It is hard to overemphasize the trauma and hardship that children affected by HIV/AIDS are forced to bear. The epidemic not only causes children to lose their parents or guardians, but sometimes their childhood as well.

As parents and family members become ill, children take on more responsibility to earn an income, produce food, and care for family members. It is harder for these children to access adequate nutrition, basic health care, housing and clothing.

Because AIDS claims the lives of people at an age when most already have young children, more children have been orphaned by AIDS in Africa than anywhere else. Many children are now raised by their extended families and some are even left on their own in child-headed households.

A decline in school enrolment is one of the most visible effects of the epidemic. This in itself will have an effect on HIV prevention, as a good, basic education ranks among the most effective and cost-effective means of preventing HIV.

There are numerous barriers to school attendance in Africa. Children may be removed from school to care for parents or family members, or they may themselves be living with HIV. Many are unable to afford school fees and other such expenses – this is particularly a problem among children who have lost their parents to AIDS, who often struggle to generate income.

Studies have suggested that young people with little or no education may be around twice as likely to contract HIV as those who have completed primary education.

**The statistics of this page are compiled from various sources released in different years. Current statistics may have changed from the contents listed here. The purpose of these stats is not to provide the most up-to-date or accurate values, but to give the reader an overview or better understanding of the impact of HIV/AIDS in Kenya and around the world.