Elizabeth Atieno Onyango

Updated January 2024

Elizabeth is a feminist and human rights defender from Mombasa where she works as the Programs Officer for COSWA (Coast Sex Workers Alliance) KENYA, advocating for HIV and SRHR services for sex workers. She is a young people’s representative for AIDS2024, on the Conference Planning Committee and cochair of the Global Village.

Impact

Liz formed Hidaya, an advocacy network of sex workers who use drugs to advocate for harm reduction. She was a lead in the Global Fund writing process and ensured this population was prioritized for services in the concept note. She also co-founded a social media program—Thursdays with Liz and Lee—to decriminalize sex work.

Media

Outreach

Joyce Ouma

Joyce methodically threaded her way through all relevant power centers to influence large-scale integration of SRH and HIV. First, she built a cadre of young women champions who contributed to her successful campaign to win Machakos county-level budget for SRH/HIV integration, and to win further national commitment from PEPFAR COP 21 and Global Fund 2021–2024. She sat on Kenya’s national HIV/SRH integration working group where they spearheaded the one-stop-shop piloting in five counties.

In the midst of Joyce’s Fellow project, the WHO green lighted the Dapivirine Vaginal Ring, so, naturally, Joyce co-convened a civil society taskforce to fast track its introduction. All the while, she penned two opinion pieces in Kenya’s national daily Star speaking of the continued need for a robust HIV prevention pipeline.

End of Project Summary Video

Media

Materials

Mercy Mutonyi

Mercy is a Project Manager for the BHESP Global Fund/Kenya Redcross project for female sex workers. She is actively engaged in the national key population, PrEP and adolescent girls and young women’s technical working groups. She is a young advocate with over seven years of experience in HIV prevention programming, working with female sex workers and vulnerable young women in Kenya. She was a co-investigator and lead PrEP ambassador in the IPCP-Kenya PrEP demonstration pilot and was also the project manager of DREAMS Innovation Challenge at BHESP. Mercy participated in the development of PrEP and HIV self-testing guidelines in Kenya.

Fellowship Focus
Mercy influenced the implementation of ethical assisted partner notification services (APNS) among sex workers as part of Kenya’s shift to index testing. She identified barriers to APNS for sex workers and ensured that the new national assisted partner notification/index testing guidelines included them. She also influenced PEPFAR to provide guidance on index testing that respects human rights—something that is now part of implementation monitoring. She amplified the voices of young women and sex workers in HIV prevention research and implementation and in the decriminalization of sex work.

In Their Own Words
The protection of the human rights and the safety of sex workers should be a top priority as the community of female sex workers at different levels participate in index HIV testing. HIV prevention is not about numbers and targets–sex workers’ rights and dignity should be upheld.

Advocacy

Media

Consolata Achieng Opiyo

Consolata is the Vice Chairperson for ICWEA. She’s also on WHO’s Women Living with HIV Advisory Group and represents the TB constituents in Kenya on the Glocal Fund country coordinating mechanism. She’s a project assistant for the Global Partnership for Action to end all forms of HIV- Related stigma at GNP+. She is an activist, public and motivational speaker, facilitator and trainer of trainers. She acquired HIV through vertical transmission,and her main interest has always been the sexual and reproductive health and rights of adolescent girls and young women.

Fellowship Focus
Consolata prepared Kenya and the wider region for the ECHO trial results. As a member of the ECHO National Taskforce team and the Communications Subcommittee, she helped plan for various scenarios following possible trial results. When the ECHO results were released after her Fellows project, Consolata was central to the dissemination and deciphering of the results in Kenya and beyond. She also played a primary role in reviewing and validating Kenya’s guidelines on Dolutegravir as a treatment choice for women.

In Their Own Words
We cannot speak about HIV without considering sexual and reproductive health and vice versa and that is why during my fellowship I pushed for the integration of the two in the healthcare setting.

Materials

Media

Peter Mogere

Peter currently oversees several HIV self-testing (HIVST) and PrEP delivery studies being implemented in collaboration with government and private facilities. He is a regulatory affairs specialist in the conduct of clinical trials and currently works as the pharmacy lead and project coordinator for several studies as well as the lead of a regulatory docket. Peter is also the Secretary General of the Kenya Pharmaceutical Association (KPA) and a health research advocate.

Fellowship Focus
Peter has championed HIVST as part of the PrEP package and the first 90 (out of the 90-90-90 treatment targets). He helped to successfully draft and shepherd the launch of Kenya’s HIVST guidelines and PrEP Framework inclusive of HIVST. He then led the sensitization of health workers and demand creation for self-testing through the media. Peter also lobbied the government to provide HIV self-testing kits free of charge with support from Global Fund and PEPFAR and in the private sector at cost. With the guidelines in place and government commitment to HIV self-testing scale-up, Peter continues to advocate for the broader rollout of the kits by the government, monitoring the processes of both domestic and external funding for the continuity of the programs. As a result of his work, he’s now coordinating a demonstration project at his host organization in Thika to explore how HIVST impacts PrEP uptake.

In Their Own Words
Advocacy isn’t about just making noise, but helping to find solutions. As a healthcare provider with experience in research and PrEP delivery, I helped translate the scientific jargon to simple, understandable language that could be understood by different groups. By providing the right information on the products and different strategies, I helped advocates to champion for issue-based campaigns.

Materials

Godfrey Ochieng Okumu

Godfrey is a social change advocate with almost two decades of experience. He currently works at Tostan International, focusing on building partnerships and monitoring and evaluation. He’s also the focal person for Tostan’s training and replication pathway, a pilot advocacy project on ending violence against women and girls. He’s been actively involved in the rollout of VMMC from the onset, playing a key role in the negotiation of buy-in from the custodians of local culture and overseeing demand creation.

Fellowship Focus
Godfrey’s project focused on advocacy to hold the Kenyan Ministry of Health and county governments accountable in VMMC implementation. He was directly involved in the development of the national VMMC communications strategy, initiating and influencing conversations on VMMC and domestic financing at the county level. Godfrey also pushed for the rollout of PrEP among adolescent girls and young women.

In Their Own Words
As a long-standing VMMC advocate, I believe that now is the time for Kenya to start taking concrete steps to ensure the current gains are not lost should donor funding end and implementing partners recede.

Godfrey’s Advocacy

Carolyn Njoroge

Carolyn is a sex worker, rights activist and is living positively as an accomplished advocate for health issues including comprehensive HIV prevention treatment, care and services in Kenya. Her current advocacy focuses on capacity building and community and economic empowerment with sex worker-led organizations in Kenya. She’s been involved in microbicides and PrEP research endeavors among sex workers, and through these experiences, has built a community profile and a strong network among fellow sex workers and allied organizations.

Fellowship Focus
Carolyn advocated for research on microbicides and the rollout of PrEP among key populations, particularly sex workers in Kenya. She ensured that sex workers have access to information on PrEP to empower them to make decisions. She also engaged with researchers, policy makers and funders to bring sex workers’ voices to the forefront of PrEP programming. She advocated for change in laws that criminalise sex work in Kenya since they increase sex workers’ vulnerability to new HIV infections. Carolyn continued her advocacy after her Fellowship and is a strong voice for HIV prevention and the rights of key populations in Kenya and the region.

In Their Own Words
Laws that criminalize sex work in Kenya and all over the world make sex workers vulnerable to new HIV infections. PrEP and microbicides could help empower them to protect themselves from HIV in these climates of hardship.

Carolyn’s Media Advocacy

Teresia Njoki Otieno

Teresia currently works for the Center for Multicultural Health, a community-based organization in Seattle, where she provides direct services to African-Americans and African immigrants and refugees. She’s a member of the ATHENA Network, the Ryan White Planning Council and the US People Living with HIV Caucus steering committee. She is an accomplished advocate for HIV-positive women, with experience in counseling, testing and community engagement. She is living with HIV and in a discordant relationship. She has fought for the sexual and reproductive rights of women in Kenya and in international forums, and has worked with other women living with HIV to fight their forced and coerced sterilization.

Fellowship Focus
Teresia worked with discordant couples and sex workers to shape the PrEP agenda in Kenya by increasing their participation in HIV prevention forums and committees at the county and national levels. She worked closely with Fellow Everlyne Ombati to ensure that new HIV prevention options for women, including PrEP, are part of the conversation in discussing Kenya’s future planning for prevention. She documented perceptions of PrEP in the target communities and her advocacy informed the inclusion of PrEP in the Kenya National Strategic Plan. She also engaged in national and international discussions and influenced research to better understand the possible connection between hormonal contraceptive use and HIV risk. She has been directly involved in conversations before, during and after the ECHO trial.

In Their Own Words
We’ve seen major breakthroughs in HIV prevention, treatment and even cure research over the last several years. Science continues to deliver – now it’s time for us as advocates, service providers, governments and funders to effectively implement what’s been delivered to us as we work towards new possibilities for tomorrow.

Everlyne Ombati

Everlyn is the program coordinator for CBEC-KEMRI Bioethics Training Initiative (CKBTI), an NIH FIC funded bioethics training program established to create bioethics capacity in Kenya. She has extensive experience with biomedical research and regulatory issues through her work with the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) and has been involved in coordinating the process of reviewing and restructuring of the research regulatory system within KEMRI.

Fellowship Focus
Everlyn focused on advocacy for options designed to meet women’s multiple and diverse needs. She worked closely with Fellow Teresia Njoki to ensure that new HIV prevention options for women are part of the conversation in discussing Kenya’s future planning for prevention at the national and county levels. She built awareness around and prepared the ground for rollout of multipurpose prevention technologies (MPTs). Once developed, these options will prevent unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. She engaged three distinct levels of participants: community/end users, the research community/medical fraternity and regulators. Her project captured perceptions, knowledge and interest around MPTs in order to determine whether MPTs are a recognized need, explored what kind of products would be acceptable in Kenya and promoted awareness of MPTs. She also engaged regulators to discuss the ethical development of MPTs and the regulatory challenges faced in their introduction.

In Their Own Words
It is challenging to advocate for products like MPTs that aren’t available yet, so it’s important to be careful with the language we use to manage communities’ expectations. Also, these products must be introduced in a way that complements already existing products rather than one that alienates or stigmatizes them.

Everlyne’s Media Advocacy

New Pregnancy HIV Prevention Tools On The Way
Kenya: Deliver HIV Prevention Tools to Young Women

Materials
Poster – Raising awareness for microbicides and multipurpose prevention technologies in Kenya

Patrick Muchai

Patrick has been involved in HIV prevention programs in Kenya for the past fifteen years and is passionate about working with communities to understand their sexual and reproductive health and rights. Patrick has served as the Chairperson of the Kenya Medical Research Institute-University of Washington Community Advisory Board (CAB) in Coast Province and coordinated the Coast Vaccine Support Network in Kenya, which enabled him to link research institutions to the community by repackaging information on HIV vaccines in an accessible language.

Fellowship Focus
Patrick developed a culturally-appropriate HIV prevention research training curriculum regarding participation in clinical trials of microbicides, PrEP and HIV vaccines for community members, with a specific focus on key populations in Kenya such as MSM and sex workers. He also built the capacity of Community Advisory Board members to work with the media to ensure that their perspectives are accurately represented.

In Their Own Words
When research communities are meaningfully engaged, they are empowered to participate and provide feedback to the research teams and, in the process, it creates an enabling environment for research conduct.