George's storyGeorge Olali is HIV positive and one of 23 AMREF-trained community health workers in Nairobi’s Kibera slum trained to recruit locals for HIV testing, offer counseling, and enforce adherence to treatment routines.
George was diagnosed with HIV about 10 years ago; for the past three years he has been on an anti-retroviral therapy regimen. He is committed to eliminating the stigma associated with the disease, aversion to routine testing, and inconsistent use of anti-retrovirals (ARVs).
AMREF trained George as both a counselor and peer educator. At the Kibera Clinic, he comforts patients awaiting and following both HIV/AIDS testing and treatment, conducts individual and group therapy sessions, and supports the Treatment Literacy Program run by AMREF which addresses proper ARV use, side-effects, nutrition, and basic homecare skills.
His most meaningful work, though, is his pavement-stomping outreach to those community members lacking the initiative, awareness, or healthiness to seek out the clinic’s services. George and his team penetrate the community to “educate…and encourage people to come and seek voluntary counseling and testing services, which are offered free of charge at the center."
George also makes house calls to those too sick to travel – he checks up on patients, discusses side-effects of treatment, answers patient questions, trains friends and family in proper homecare practices, and, "[most] importantly, we ensure that everyone takes their medicine on time."
"We are like one big family,"
says George, of the people who have been reached through AMREF's HIV Community Health Program in Kibera
. Since launching the program, the Clinic has observed a jump in the numbers of those getting tested, enrolling in ARV treatment, and adhering to their regimens.