The Kenyan government on Tuesday launched a 60 million shilling -- or about $975,000 -- campaign to increase the number of HIV-positive people who are screened for tuberculosis at public hospitals, Kenya's Nation reports. The campaign also aims to educate health workers to test people with TB for HIV.
About half of the 1.2 million HIV-positive people in Kenya also have TB, James Nyikal, public health and sanitation permanent secretary, said at an event to mark the launch of the campaign at Mbagathi District Hospital in Nairobi, Kenya. He added that health workers detect about 20% of TB cases among HIV-positive people. According to Nyikal, there is a "strong link" between TB and HIV/AIDS. "That is why we want our health workers to ensure all patients are tested for both diseases in public, private and mission hospitals," he said (Mwaniki, Nation, 5/7).
Nyikal also said health workers are not immune to the stigma often associated with TB and HIV/AIDS, Africa Science News Service reports. He said a number of health workers reported knowing colleagues who seek treatment for HIV/AIDS in distant health clinics to avoid discrimination. "Health workers need to be encouraged to recognize the benefits of disclosure to support their work and health," Nyikal said. He also acknowledged that Kenya faces challenges in fighting HIV/AIDS- and TB-related stigma (Neondo, Africa Science News Service, 5/6).
According to Nyikal, Kenya has received a shipment of 800,000 doses of the BCG TB vaccine. A recent government shortage put more than 200,000 infants at risk of contracting the disease. There were 117,000 cases of TB in Kenya last year, and the disease killed about 74,000 people, the Nation reports (Nation, 5/7).