Kenya Navy Training College (KNTC) has conducted a month long HIV/AIDS awareness program to raise awareness and prevention of HIV/AIDS to newly enlisted sailors.
The program dubbed SHUGA has been in existence for the last 3 years and was initiated by the College in conjunction with Kenya Navy Sickbay medical practioners to give special attention to new sailors in order to equip them with the necessary knowledge on HIV/ AIDS and other diseases.
This is one way of ensuring a healthy soldier who is physically, mentally and emotionally mission ready.
HIV/AIDS awareness campaign has been very fruitful in Kenya Navy since its inception as it has immensely assisted in combating the disease not only to the sailors but by extension to the civilian staff and the soldiers’ families.
The college found the necessity of engaging youths who are sexually active to educate them on the preventive measures since there is high prevalence rate of spreading of the disease to people between 18-28 years of age and military personnel are not exceptional.
The program was run by the college instructors who have been specially trained on HIV/AIDS through capacity building. KNTC prides herself as one of the military institutions that has been successful in training her own personnel on HIV/AIDS which has helped in fighting stigmatization.
During the closing ceremony, the lead facilitator Warrant Officer class 2 Lucy Wamuyu noted that the new sailors were fully engaged throughout the awareness and prevention training sessions as depicted by the active roles they played and the several questions they posed to the facilitators. She noted that the new sailors are now fully aware of the consequences of indulging into vices that were identified as the key contributors of infecting HIV/AIDS.
She further noted that the real live experiences narrated by personnel living with the virus was instrumental in driving the message home.
In his address, Kenya Navy Senior Nursing Officer coast region hospital Lieutenant Colonel Vincent Omondi reminded the sailors that health is wealth and it is everyone’s responsibility to ensure that they remain negative in order to execute their roles. He urged them to practice lessons learnt as they prepare to become parents especially having an open dialogue with their partners by creating a friendly environment for sharing vital family values and expectations that will enable youths to make sound decisions.
This year’s program had various themes namely the status disclosure, effects of multiple sexual partners, effects of alcohol and drug abuse in relation to family life and parent child communication which are fundamentals in addressing HIV/AIDS prevention.