23 May 2013 – Eighteen HIV positive transport workers from unions across Kenya recently came together for the first time to share their experiences and discuss how to develop the Usafiri Positive Workers Network (USAFIRI) throughout the country to reduce stigma around HIV/AIDS and tackle discrimination in the transport sector.
The nine men and nine women were participating in the first meeting in Kisumu of USAFIRI, which was established in Mombasa in 2011. The workshop, on 8-9 May, was organised by the ITF.
Over the two days the participants developed action plans to form USAFIRI in the Kenyan counties of Kagamega, Kisumu, Migori, Mlolongo, Nairobi and Nakuru and to strengthen the network in Mombasa. These plans include recruiting more HIV positive union members to the network from the transport sector, including taxi, boda-boda and tuk-tuk operators, and building relationships with the friends and families of positive workers.
USAFIRI chairman Francis Ruwa emphasised the group’s commitment saying, “HIV positive workers too often live in fear of their colleagues finding out about their status and experience stigma, discrimination and the threat of being sacked.
“By encouraging positive workers’ to speak out we hope to break the silence around HIV/AIDS and reduce the stigma. We have come from far and there is yet a long way to go but nothing will stop us from continuing with the struggle.”
USAFIRI also plans to extend its activities to other East African countries.