By Vandana Kumar
Since 2005, Kenya has been one of the 15 countries with the highest rates of HIV infection in the world. As of 2009, 6.3% of the country’s men and women, or 1.9 million out of a population of 38.6 million, are affected by HIV/AIDS. The high prevalence of HIV/AIDS in Kenya is a combined result of sexual practices conducive to the spread of the virus, insufficient sex education for individuals of all ages, and stigmatization of individuals with AIDS. Halting and reversing the spread of HIV/AIDS, as stated in Millennium Development Goal #6, requires looking beyond clinical interventions and understanding the social context of the disease through the lens of sexual practices such as multiple concurrent partnerships. This paper will evaluate HIV prevention initiatives already in place, namely school and community sex education programs and methods of condom distribution. It will also use these models to propose new modes of HIV prevention, such as multi-purpose prevention centers in rural communities. These centers, staffed by community healers, will target all facets of HIV prevalence by combining primary healthcare and sex education with counseling and activism. Grassroots initiatives that encourage community and individual empowerment while maintaining cultural integrity are the most effective ways to halt the spread HIV/AIDS in Kenya.