“They could not have given me a greater motivation”

“They could not have given me a greater motivation”

“When I stood at the gate, older women said to me: you will not get to speak to them... They could not have given me a greater motivation and I am grateful for that.” Meet Grace Muthoni, programme manager at AYARHEP in Kenya and self-assured activist who stands up for rights of young people. Every day she works passionately to ensure a better life for young people living with HIV.

Enormous stigma

“Like many young people in Kenya, I grew up during the AIDS epidemic. During primary school I have lost many friends and beloved ones to AIDS. What struck me most at that time was the enormous stigma surrounding this disease. Even nowadays there are people that want to have nothing to do with people living with HIV. I noticed very early on that I wanted to help them. Now I am their voice and that makes me proud.”

Amplify voices

“Young people, including young people living with HIV, should be full of power. At AYARHEP we support and empower young people to speak up and realize their sexual and reproductive rights. Not only for themselves, but also for their peers. Advocacy is an important part of our work but we cannot do it alone. Aidsfonds provides us with support. Now we can even bring together other community based organisations to amplify the voice of young people living with HIV.”

I will not leave

“We are extremely proud to receive direct funding for one year from Aidsfonds to advocate for dolutegravir as an ARV for all women, including those of reproductive age.” Women in Kenya are currently excluded after WHO raised safety alerts. Last May AYARHEP initiated a peaceful march to give young women a voice in their own treatment regimes.

“I stood in front of the Ministry of Health building and a woman said to me that we would never succeed. For a moment I felt down. Then I looked behind me and saw over 400 women standing their ground. I said to myself: I will not leave until they speak to us. We are heard, invited even. The Ministry of Health is considering lifting safety alerts on dolutegravir.”

I feel that not only young people and young women living with HIV, but also the Ministry of Health is part of us. Nothing about us, without us. It shows again.“


It is the spirit and not the form of law that keeps justice alive


Shortly after the interview took place, WHO announced to recommend DTG as first line treatment for people living with HIV including women and adolescents. Grace responds to this fantastic news: “Yes, it feels great! The struggle was worth it. It is the spirit and not the form of law that keeps justice alive. Our voices have been heard and for me it's a great step to our country. However we will still continue engaging with the ministry of health in order to make sure all women of potential child bearing age living with HIV access equitable and rights based HIV treatment.


Ambassadors for Youth and Adolescents Reproductive Health Programme (AYARHEP) was established in 2016 in direct response to limited capacity to effectively coordinate the voice of adolescent and young people living with HIV. It is supported by PITCH and Get Up Speak Out programmes in which it focus is on removing stigma of and improve access to services for young people living with HIV respectively.




Aidsfonds.org uses cookies to offer the best website experience possible and to anonymously analyze website behaviour. More information.