Kenya - Asunta Wagura

It was 1988 when Asunta Wagura was diagnosed with HIV – a time when such a diagnosis was literally a death sentence. Rejected by family and friends, Asunta found herself on the streets of Nairobi with nothing. Together with several friends, Asunta started an association to help others in her situation known as KENWA (the Kenyan Network of Women with AIDS).

“At the time, the stigma around AIDS was so bad that people were being thrown out of their homes.” KENWA stepped in to help those who had been diagnosed, making home visits and providing basic foodstuffs, bed management, and care, at one time reaching upwards of 10,000 people. Today, the situation has changed radically. Stigma is down and treatment is readily available. KENWA continues to serve its community, but is now changing its focus to empowering people to speak out for themselves and live productively with HIV.

Asunta, too, has changed her focus. The mother of five boys (all of whom are HIV-negative), she is still involved in supporting the AIDS response but is also pursuing advanced studies. When asked about her health, she replies, “I don’t think about it so much – I don’t have to keep remembering (that I am HIV-positive).” HIV/AIDS, she says, “Really brought out the best in me. It really opened chapters in my life and my perspective on people. If I have been successful, it is because I have been able to lean on people’s shoulders.”

Reflecting on the 30 years of Worlds AIDS Day and the 30 years since her diagnosis, Asunta warns that this is not the time to relax. The fight against HIV still needs our attention and adequate resources in order to reach the 90-90-90 goals. “We will be living with the impact of HIV for a long time.”

Click image to enlarge
For Additional Information or to Request Interviews, Please contact:
Beatrice Bernescut

Consultant

WHO Regional Office for Africa

WhatsApp: +41 78 836 6193

OKA Sakuya

Communications Manager (a.i)
WHO Regional Office for Africa
Tel: +242 06 508 1009
Email: okas [at] who.int