Knowing one’s HIV status is widely acknowledged as one of the best ways to prevent transmission. However, the lack of universal access to affordable HIV counseling and testing prevents many from seeking testing services. In addition to these economic barriers, social stigma and discrimination surrounding HIV also discourages many Kenyans from getting tested.
As a result, only 36-percent of adults in Kenya know their HIV status and 83-percent of those with HIV are unaware that they are infected, according to the Kenya AIDS Indicator Survey (KAIS 2007).
To reduce barriers to care and treatment, International Medical Corps introduced an innovative approach to HIV counseling and testing in Suba District in 2006. The method brought formerly expensive and possibly stigmatizing services to the household level, where testing and counseling were offered in a convenient and private setting. With the Home-Based Counseling and Testing (HBCT) model, International Medical Corps sought to test more couples as well as children and get them on treatment.
Ending in September 2010, the HBCT program in Suba District was an astonishing success. Under HBCT, International Medical Corps tested 70,000 Kenyans and drastically increased the number of people diagnosed and treated for HIV throughout Suba, making it the only organization to reach 100% coverage with its programs.
International Medical Corps’ HBCT program was so well-received that it helped inform Kenya’s national policy in which the model was recognized as one of the most effective strategies in promoting HIV testing and counseling in Kenya. Its success in Suba was also shared at a national forum that brought together key players and policy makers for HIV/AIDS in Kenya.
International Medical Corps continues to fight HIV/AIDS with programs that target at-risk groups such as prison inmates as well as work to prevent mother-to-child transmission. International Medical Corps will include an HBCT component in our Prisons Program by conducting HBCT in the communities around the prisons during the period leading up to and on the World Aids Day.