AIDS in Kenya: Glimmers of Hope

AIDS has devastated the lakeshore communities of Lake Victoria in western Kenya. There are an estimated 650,000 AIDS orphans currently living in Kenya, according to the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS. But amid the devastation there are signs of hope.

Thanks to a handful of ambitious nonprofit programs, most of the orphans have not been abandoned to their fate. Support groups for women widowed by the virus — who sometimes contract HIV when poverty and hunger force them to trade sex for food — are also finding support among their fellow widows.

The support groups are crucial, because AIDS still carries a powerful social stigma in Kenyan society — especially for women, who are expected to re-marry after losing a husband, not go to work for themselves. They now have access to programs that teach them a trade, and maybe a livelihood.