AIDS is one of the greatest health problems of this century. The stigma associated with it has made it become almost a secretive disease which often ravages victims in silence until it can no longer remain hidden and then when one dies of it, it is always from some other type of disease so that the family does not suffer the indignity of having a relative die of this dreadful disease. Often people hide their status and in this situation the potential to spread the disease is very real.
In 25 years, HIV has infected more than 65 million people. The majority of those suffering live in Africa, but the pandemic is quickly spreading in many countries throughout Eastern Europe, Latin America and Asia. By 2010, it is estimated that 80 million people will be infected and 25 million children will have been orphaned. HIV and AIDS disproportionately affect the poor and vulnerable and limited resources often prevent poor communities from supporting the millions who suffer.

The scope of the spread of the disease should not be a discouragement in doing whatever can be done in any capacity to stave off this disease. Recognizing this need, KUSARD, in its own small way started a program which was mostly contacted by the youth with KUSARD's support. Their aim was to spread the message to their peers about this disease and to discourage risky behavior that can lead to someone contracting the disease. Behavioral change was key to staving off the tide.

We have to main arms of dealing with the pandemic. The CIPAM (Community Integrated AIDS Campaign and KYAP (Kituiuni Youth AIDS Program). Different methods of passing the message to those most at risk are applied. Drama; Videos; Guest Speakers (often AIDS victims); and any other way that resonates with the youth that can encourage the message to be heard and understood and practiced. Testing and Counseling is another way in which we encourage those at risk to participate in; first to determine their status and also to prevent further spreading of the diseases to friends even relatives like in the case of married people .

KUSARD helps individuals, families and communities as they struggle through the physical, economic, social and emotional ravages of the disease. By working with local and international partners - including Churches, local authorities, and other faith-based and private organizations - we empower people and communities to stem the tide of the pandemic.

Read about one of our Partner's excursion to Machakos-Makueni Districts on the AIDS Quest:-

3.KITUIUNI HEALTH CENTER PROGRAM KUSARD is profoundly indebted to our partners who have helped in the completion of the Kituiuni Health Center. The people of Kituiuni have, for many years suffered due to lack of health services in this remote rural area. The nearest Center is miles away and there is no transportation available incase of emergencies and people have to walk long distances to obtain medical services, their condition often worsening by the time they are seen by health personnel. Recognizing the severity of the problem, especially for children, the elderly, pregnant women and the sick, the founder of KENYA/USA CHRISTIAN RELIEF & DEVELOPMENT, INC (KUSARD) in partnership with donors in the U.S.A build this clinic that would save this community from years of suffering for luck of medical services.

Today, thanks to friends and sympathetic friends, the dream of a health center has materialized and on April 2002 the facility was opened by the presiding Member of Parliament of the Kaiti constituency, Hon. Minister Gideon Ndambuki.

Contributors towards this project included:-
Parishioners of St. Therese Paterson
The Seekers Church of Washington
The Catholic Charities Paterson Chapter
The Rotary Club of Paterson
The Presbyterian Church of Wayne
The Development Finance International- Washington
World Fuels Services Corporation

But although the clinic is now complete, the desired full medical services have not started as had been hoped for. However, some volunteer social workers keep the center open and running. They distribute donated non-prescription drugs and the day is yet to dawn when the clinic will be fully functional. To this end the fight continues through all possible channels and especially through the legislative representative of the area who had opened the clinic after completion, Hon. Ndambuki. It is my conviction that the time is not far off when mothers will have their babies delivered here, while, in and out patients will get the medical care they deserve. The clamor of the people grows louder each day due to their woes and I believe that one day, the government will pay heed to these long suffering rural dwellers of Kituiuni/Kithangathini and take some action. The community has done all it can do, and now it is incubent upon the government and donor community to come to its ruscue, and provide staff, equipment and drugs for the center.

March 18th 2004 Free ClinicA glimpse of the acute need for health services in Kituiuni was demonstrated by an event that took place on March 18th 2004 when a free clinic was held there. It was a two day event and people came in droves to take advantage of the widely publicized free medical services. Visitors from the Wayne Presbyterian Church in USA, in collaboration with the Catholic Mission Hospital of Kilungu delivered free medical services to hundreds of people.

Patients are seen here waiting in line for the opportunity to be treated. Altogether almost 1,000 patients were served during the two days of free medicine; and despite all efforts, hundreds more could still not be served and had to be turned away owing to the high turnout. HIV tests were contacted on site with the aid of a portable power generator which assisted in operating the testing equipment. Like many parts in Africa, the area has had its share of the AIDS scourge and KUSARD is fighting tooth and nail to win the war, although some of it is being lost as we continue to experience an inordinate number of loss of life in this and many other communities in the country. The impact is mostly on members of the most productive age group most of whom have children who are left without one or both parents. The burden of catering for those children falls on other relatives or neighbors. KUSARD is struggling to do what it can but its accomplishments are limited by lack of resources.

Peter Kimeu, KUSARD's National Advisor, tried to sum up the state of affairs when he said,"The KUSARD organization has been up against an uphill battle in its inability to support those infected and affected by the HIV/AIDS disease. In our meagre efforts KUSARD has supported community based initiatives in responding to the unceasing demand associated with the HIV/AIDS. CIPACAM(The Mwanyambevo AIDS campaign Group); KYAP(The Kituiuni AIDS Awareness Creation Group); 4KClub(The Kyakitoo Group) are KUSARD's arms in confronting head-on, the crisis posed by the AIDS disease.
KUSARD uses these groups to educate communities on the management of HIV/AIDS in home based care. The fight is very far from being won. We continue to lose those who are positive due to the unavailability of medical supplies; test equipment and support mechanisms.
We are collectively thankful of last year's delegation from the Paterson Diocese and the Wayne Presbyterian Church New Jersey to Machakos Diocese. If it had not been for their help, one HIV positive lady and her child would be no longer with us today. But after receiving some assistance from this group plus additional funds from the diocese of Machakos and from KUSARD, she received medical services at the General Hospital in Machakos until she was well enough to return to her village at Mwanyambevo where she continues with her therapies and has joined the local AIDS campaign Groups to help spread the message of avoiding contraction of the AIDS disease.
But this lady's upkeep is beyond her means,"continues Peter,"The cost of managing her condition is substantial since she has no income to speak of. She requires Kshs.500 ($10.00) monthly for medical supplies. Constant monthly laboratory examinations costing Ksh. 1,300 ($20.00) per month. A good diet of high protein, vegetable and fruits. Obviously this is a toll order which she will certainly not be able to fill and it will be impossible for her to keep up with the requirements to keep her alive for lack of resources. This cost does not even take into account the baby who has not yet been tested for the disease although it was given preventive medicine at birth and cannot be breast fed by the mother. The loan of Kshs 10,000/= ($150.00) given her as a loan for income generation has all but disappeared thanks to the adverse and unfavorable economic conditions in Kenya.
We surely need support, not only to help this woman and her baby, but also engage the community in awareness creation to fully understand the need for prevention and also to try and mainstream the disease to remove the stigma associated with it and make it accepted as any other disease, although to be dreaded and avoided. This will help in accepting the sick among us and to care for them and to encourage all at risk to get tested to be sure of their status, in order to prevent the snowballing of the crisis. An estimate of about Kshs. 5,000 - 10,000 ($72.00-150.00) per month for each positive case and family support is needed. But most people in the communities we serve make about Kshs.1,000 to 2,000 per month. ie. $14 to $28 per month" and when they become infected they lose even that little income if it was there in the first place." Concluded Peter.