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When house help is HIV-positive

Discussion in 'Habari na Hoja mchanganyiko' started by Shadow, Mar 12, 2010.

  1. Shadow

    Shadow JF-Expert Member

    Mar 12, 2010
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    When house help is HIV-positive

    Published on 06/03/2010
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    By Hellen Miseda
    You leave your most precious possession —your child — in her care although you may not know much about her health, and especially her HIV status.
    The children like her so much that they fondly — and ignorantly — use some of her personal items like toothbrush without your knowledge.
    In her sheer ignorance or maybe apathy, the girl allows this dangerous habit to continue until you discover when it is too late — when the children have contracted HIV.
    [​IMG]With the possibility of house helps maliciously infecting children with HIV, many parents are dismissing them when they discover they are infected.
    [​IMG]Children can get so close to the house girl that they share personal items like toothbrushes with her.
    [​IMG]Winnie, who was forced to dismiss her HIV-positive house help who was tending to her new born. Photos: Ann Kamoni
    This is the misfortune that befell the Ngure’s (not real name) whose two children contracted HIV by sharing a toothbrush with their house help of more than five years.

    The Ngure’s, who are both HIV negative, discovered this after two of their toddlers persistently fell ill. A series of tests was done, and the blood tests turned out positive for HIV.
    "This came as a rude shock to us because none of us is a carrier of the virus. Out of pain and the bitterness of betrayal, we fired her," says Mrs Ngure.
    Increasingly, more and more parents are discovering that their house girls are HIV positive. The employers are torn between firing the girls and putting them on treatment as they continue working.
    Given the hushed cases of malicious infections, parents are caught between a rock and a hard place. Parents fear accommodating an infected domestic worker because the children are too young to protect themselves. But human rights[​IMG] activists argue that firing the house help fuels stigma. So does fair treatment of HIV positive house helps mean retaining them?
    For most mothers, out of fear, the automatic decision is to fire the girls.
    Safety concerns
    Ms Winnie Ambogo, a mother of a one-year-old girl, Natasha, had lived with her house girl for three months before she found out that she was HIV positive.
    "She used to cough quite often, but it never crossed my mind that she might be infected. One day, while I was rummaging through some stuff in her room, I found a cocktail of drugs. When I confronted her, she came out clean and said she was sick. I was forced to relieve her of her duties because my baby was just a few weeks old. But I made sure I counseled her and told her to continue with her treatment," she says.
    Mrs Rose Kamau, who runs a house girls’ bureau in Umoja, says she would also take the same approach — let the girl go. According to her, a house helpwho is HIV-positive should be released immediately for safety reasons.
    She says the nature of a house girl’s work requires her to interact very closely with the children and because of this she can infect them with the virus knowingly or unknowingly.
    The house girl may cut herself while preparing food and the children may get in contact with her blood. They can also pick TB from her.
    "Teenage boys in the house may also have sexual encounter with the girl. There are also some husbands who sleep with the house girl. So just to be safe, the best thing to do is fire her," she says.
    But the Kenya[​IMG] National Network of Woman living with Aids (KENWA) Executive Director Asunta Wagura is of a totally different view. Asunta says what is needed is openness and for both parties — the employer and the house girl — to be more accommodative of each other.
    Totally inhuman
    "If a girl can agree to work for a HIV positive employer, why can’t the employer also be accommodative of an infected girl?" she poses.
    She says firing a house help who is HIV-positive is totally inhuman because they also need a chance to earn a living.
    She elaborates: "By now most of us know that the modes of transmission are sex, breastfeeding and contact with infected blood. I believe a trusted house girl will not engage in any of the above."
    She categorically states that it is illegal, according to the 2006 HIV and Aids Prevention and Control Act, to ask for somebody’s HIV status as a prerequisite to employment because this is tantamount to discrimination.
    She reckons that such information should only be sought if the intention is to help the infected person get comprehensive treatment.

  2. Mfamaji

    Mfamaji JF-Expert Member

    Mar 12, 2010
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    Very frustrating. Hebu imagine situation nyingine ambapo vijana wako wawili wamefanya ngono na house maid ambaye umtoa sijui Makambako, ambapo hiyo kitu iko juu . Kuna sababu nyingi zinazoweza kufanya hili likatendeka .
  3. Shadow

    Shadow JF-Expert Member

    Mar 12, 2010
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    siyo hilo tu, na baba naye anaponea hapo hapo kisha dada ndo anavyiogesha vibinti vyako vya chekechea....