In Kisumu, Kenya, 19.3 percent of the population is infected with HIV/AIDS, making this region on of several areas in the country in which the majority of the population are affected by the virus in their daily lives.
“I was invited to participate in a training about ‘the Good Samaritan in 2012.’ During this workshop, we were encouraged to get ourselves tested to see if we were HIV positive,” says Solomon.
“I was afraid.”
When Solomon was in his first course, he decided to take the test. He had never been tested previously, but he knew it was risky not to know his own status. Many people in the area were infected, and thus he could potentially infect his wives. The result was disheartening: Solomon was infected.
Solomon lives in a polygamous marriage, with two wives. One of them, Chrispus Atieno Agono, says that she fears for her husband’s life.
“I was shocked and frightened when we found out about the test results. We know that many people die of AIDS, but thanks to the medication and the knowledge we’ve acquired through the Good Samaritan program, we can live in harmony.”
Both of Solomon’s wives have also been tested for HIV, but the results have come back negative: they are not infected.
Staying safe with condoms
Solomon says that the support of both his wives has been very important in this process.
“My wives encouraged me and told me not to be afraid. For me, they have been good Samaritans. I live with this disease, but I take medications. My life is good now; we live in harmony.”
Solon also says that he now takes additional precautions, such as using condoms, to avoid infecting his wives.
“We must speak openly about this.”
Pastor Lawrence Okuda has carried out a series of Good Samaritan workshops in the region. He thinks the program is great.
“For us, it’s been important to communicate that everyone should get themselves tested. Once you’ve done that, you can protect yourself and can take medication,” he says.
“The Christian aspect of this program is important. We used to think that HIV/AIDS could only be addressed in the secular world. We associated HIV/AIDS with sexual immorality. That’s just not the case. The program has demonstrated that when the church distances itself from HIV/AIDS, society suffers. We have to talk about this in the church, and we have to speak up loudly,” he affirms.
During the training program the participants learn about how AIDS is transmitted and how treatment can be sought, among other things.