Challenges faced by support groups in offering services to People living with HIV and AIDS in Kitutu Chache Constituency, Kisii County
Mogoba, Gladys Moraa
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The main purpose of this study was to examine the challenges faced by support groups while offering services to People Living with HIV and AIDS (PLWHAs) in Kitutu Chache Constituency of Kisii County. Support groups play an important role in the control and management of HIV and AIDS and hence receive funding from the government and donor agencies. However, despite the existence of support groups and the crucial role they play in management and support of those infected and affected by HIV and AIDS, new infections have been on the increase. Thus, the study sought to examine the role played by support groups, identify the challenges they encounter and propose strategies to address the challenges. The study was carried out in the two divisions of Kitutu Chache Constituency, namely, Mosocho and Marani and employed a survey design. Simple random sampling was used to sample 5 support groups out of the targeted 9 SGs for PLWHAs while five group leaders, the two Divisional HIV and AIDS coordinators and the District AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Diseases Coordinator (DASCO) were included to participate in the study as key informants. Data were collected using focus group discussions (FGDs) and interview schedules. The Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) was used to analyze data. The findings of the study are discussed in themes according to the objectives of the study. The findings are presented in tables of frequency distributions and percentages. The study established that a majority of SGs members were women, and that most of them were middle aged. The findings showed that most members, both men and women, joined the SGs to comply with referrals from the VCT centres and share experiences with other PLWHAs. They also joined SGs to access financial support; either in form of bursaries for their school children in secondary or tertiary institutions of education or get support to finance income-generating projects while others received materials such as water containers from the support groups. However, these members face stigma, discrimination, negative perceptions from the members of the community and employ poor means of communicating the forms of discrimination. The participants suggested that community sensitization should be intensified to help the community members understand the HIV and AIDS. This is to reduce stigma and isolation. Partnerships among stakeholders should be enhanced. The government should provide funds to subsidize infrastructural development in the constituency. The study concludes that support groups play an important role in the fight against the pandemic but face various challenges which greatly hindered their effectiveness. It is therefore, recommended that the National AIDS Control Council (NACC) should define roles of all stakeholders and coordinate their activities in order to avoid duplication of effort as well as achieve better results.