Health practitioner contributes to pediatric and adolescent HIV care in Kenya

Dr Anne Wangechi Mwangi, a Project manager at the Elizabeth Glaser Paediatric AIDS Foundation in Kenya, completed her Master of Medicine (Sexually Transmitted Diseases and HIV)at the University of Sydney in December 2010.

Upon completion of her studies, she went back home and was posted to the National AIDS and STIs Control Programme (NASCOP) where she took up the position of Pediatric HIV Program Manager.

NASCOP was formed as a division of Kenya’s Ministry of Health in 1987 and is dedicated to the coordination of HIV/AIDS programs in the country. HIV prevalence in Kenya reached a high of 10 per cent in the mid-1990s and dropped to 6.2 per cent in 2010 due to increased awareness and initiatives, according to the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).

However, HIV incidence remains high especially among the high risk groups of intravenous drug users (53%) and commercial sex workers (27%), according to NASCOP.

The pediatric HIV program Anne leads faced many challenges, including low levels of HIV testing in children and lack of follow up of children in both treatment and care.

Faced with these problems, Dr Mwangi sought funding to spearhead two new major activities, supporting 50 facilities nationwide to become centres of excellence for pediatric and adolescent HIV care, treatment and support; and developing a package of care for adolescents, to help health workers set up adolescent-friendly clinics and services.

Dr Mwangi implemented both activities successfully and has received tremendous support from both the government and development partners.

She is now also involved in policy formulation, design of the National HIV training curriculum, mentorship and training of health workers.
She represented her government in major HIV/AIDS conferences in Botswana and the United States in 2012, sharing her valuable knowledge and expertise in these forums.

Not only is Dr Mwangi in a position to help develop HIV/AIDS programs in her own country, but she is also able to weigh in with her knowledge across continents.

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