photo of Wairimu Ndirangu

Wairimu Ndirangu, MSS '85, PhD '93

The World Health Organization estimates that approximately one million Kenyans are infected with the HIV/AIDS virus. This figure represents nearly 5 percent of the country's population. Wairimu Ndirangu, M.S.S. '85, Ph.D. (sw) '93, has co-authored a chapter in AIDS in Kenya: Socioeconomic Impact and Policy Implications (1996), published by Family Health International/AIDSCAP.

Ndirangu reflects on the experience of researching and writing the chapter on family responses to HIV/AIDS: “I learnt to appreciate the difficulties people living with HIV/AIDS face in a country such as ours, where the basic health care facilities are lacking and the private health care sector is unattainable for the majority of the people. The experiences narrated were always similar as they impacted on individuals' health and quality of life. But one thing was always clear — these individuals never stopped caring for their loved ones, either children or parents or grandparents who were taking care of them, or even their spouses who were sometimes associated with the infection. The caring component, the need to continue living, was amazing, to say the least. For those who were advanced in the illness, their strength and spirituality was always significantly powerful. ...

book cover“This book does not have a lot of answers. It poses scenarios that are with us, it provides us with facts, it approaches the problem from a multidisciplinary angle. It calls for collaborative effort, it challenges us all to be more conscious and committed to this war [against the disease] that has decimated our population. ... “When people read this book ... they will realize that the peoples we talk about are our peoples, not mere statistics. The sufferings, the shame, guilt, confusion, helplessness that is expressed within the context of this epidemic is real. It is now time for us to move beyond this and make a commitment wherever we are — a commitment that helps to mitigate the impact of this disease.”

Ndirangu teaches social psychiatry and psychology, lecturing at the University of Nairobi, and teaching part time at the United States International University, Africa Campus. She is one of the directors of the Kenya Institute of Stress Management. With a special interest in women and children, she writes and presents at conferences the impact of HIV/AIDS on these populations.

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