HIV/AIDS, the Disease and Hunger Complications Causing Confusion in Rural Western Kenya: A Case Study of Katolo

  • Richard N.O. K'okul

Abstract

The objective of this study was to find out whether it was HIV/AIDS or hunger pinning down patients at Katolo location in Nyando Division, Nyanza in Western Kenya. Was it hunger or HIV/AIDS influencing the low quality of life in the region? In a number of households visited, patients suspected to have been suffering from malnutrition marasmus, but alleged to be suffering from cultural chira or HIV/AIDS or unnamed ailments, were common. This forced the authors to refer patients observed with severe 'thinning ailment complications' to Katito Nursing Home, where they were tested using the Elisa method for HIV/AIDS. Out of the 91 households visited, nine patients were identified at the village level with severe thinning disorder alleged to be suffering from either chira, HIV/AIDS or as simply having complications from other chronic disease disorders. After the test, all turned out to be "HIV positive". Yet widespread ill-health caused by poverty, malnutrition, malaria and other chronic diseases in the region were evident. When the results were discussed with the health officer in-charge; he warned that tests based on the Elisa method can sometimes be unreliable. Consequently, people suffering from disorders other than HIV/AIDS are often pronounced HIV/AIDS positive without being confirmed using other tests, such as the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test. The PCR test is more reliable, because it is capable of looking at the viral DNA, which neither Western Blot nor Elisa methods can do.

(Af. J. of Food and Nutritional Security: 2001 1(1): 60-70)
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