- an Operation Triple Zero / youth ART story -

I lack the exact words to say thank you, on behalf of other HIV-positive kids and youth... This program has really impacted our lives, because we receive the medication freely, and we are encouraged to remain adherent...

The impact can be seen in young people like me.

(Aron Kiprotich)

"PEPFAR gives purpose"

PEPFAR Kenya gives hope and purpose through....

helping young people live healthily - with a vision for their bright futures - with HIV

Adolescents (10-19 years) and young people (15-24 years) are disproportionately affected by HIV in Kenya. The Kenya Demographic and Health Survey (KDHS) 2022 report indicates low knowledge of HIV status among 15-24-year-olds. Moreover, as a chronic disease that requires swallowing pills daily, and unfortunately is often accompanied by stigma, HIV poses a significant challenge to many HIV positive adolescents and young adults. Many HIV positive AYPs end up stopping their treatment regimen, and come up with fatal opportunistic infections. 

PEPFAR supports Kenya's goal to close the gaps in in the 95-95-95 cascade for Adolescents and Young Persons (AYP) by increasing case finding for AYP, promoting continuity of treatment, improving and sustaining viral load suppression above 95%. Overall, AYPs have unique challenges which contribute to low uptake of HIV testing services, poor linkage to treatment, and disengagement from treatment and non-suppression; some of these challenges include developmental changes that occur during adolescence, inadequate psychosocial support, limited peer support, mental health challenges, experience of gender-based violence, and other socio-economic challenges. There are also gaps in managing the transition process from adolescent to adult HIV care and treatment, the educational system, and other life stages. These challenges faced by average adolescents and young people in Kenya are even more pronounced for AYPs who are also orphans or vulnerable children (OVCs), like Aron.

Aron Kiprotich is one of over six hundred and eight thousand (608,000) orphans and vulnerable children supported by PEPFAR. He was diagnosed as HIV positive in secondary school, and he was started on ART right away, through the support of PEPFAR and doctors like Dr. Isaac Tsikhutsu. However, due to peer stigma and other social and economic challenges, Aron stopped taking his ARV medication and was later diagnosed with life threatening Tuberculous meningitis that was luckily successfully treated.

Noting the challenges facing HIV positive AYPs, the PEPFAR South Rift Valley program came up with innovative AYP-friendly service delivery models to engage youth and keep them in care. Adolescent and youth friendly clinics were started on Saturdays, where AYPs like Aron and his friends receive counseling and other life skills to better equip them to cope. They also share experiences amongst themselves in peer-led psychosocial support groups. With the advent of the Operation Triple Zero (OTZ) program, these initiatives were then institutionalized and cascaded to all facilities that have AYPs on HIV treatment. The goal of the OTZ initiative is to achieve three zeroes for HIV positive heroes: Zero missed Clinic appointments, Zero missed pills, and Zero viral load in the blood.

Through the adolescent-friendly OTZ programs in Kericho, and providers like Dr. Isaac Tsikhutsu and Margaret Cheptoo, Aron was counseled and supported to return to good health by adhering to his treatment regimen. Aron went on to complete secondary school, graduated from university, and is currently employed as a data officer of a Community Based Program supported by PEPFAR that helps orphans and vulnerable children like himself, where he serves as a positive role model to children undergoing similar challenges.

As an OTZ champion with a bright future ahead of him, Aron exhorts fellow HIV positive youth / AYPs through the example of his own life: "I'm encouraging other kids that, at the end of the day, you are the driver of your life. We need to just forget our past, we forgive. Every medical practitioner, every parent, every caregiver, and even society would like to see you succeed... And I know it can be done. Let's do it.


(A letter to PEPFAR from Aron Kiprotich | Kericho, Kenya | April 2023)



I am a beneficiary of your donor program. I cannot begin to express the depth of gratitude that I feel towards each and every one of you. You have given me the greatest gift of all: the gift of life.

As a beneficiary of PEPFAR's OVC program for HIV positive children, as well as the OTZ program and youth-friendly services, I would like to express my deep appreciation for the impact these programs have had on my life and the lives of many children and young adults. As an HIV+ orphan, I have faced numerous challenges in my life. The future seemed uncertain until I became a beneficiary of your HIV donor program. You have not only supported me in the payment of my school fees but also provided me with the much-needed ART treatment.

One of the key benefits of the program is access to (ART) medication, which has helped to suppress the virus in my body and prevent the progression of the disease. This has allowed me to attend school, play with my friends, and dream of a brighter future. Without your support, I do not know where I would be today. I can confidently say that I would not be here where I am today. Your kindness has changed my life, and the lives of many other vulnerable children and young adults.

I have seen firsthand the struggles that other HIV positive orphans go through. Many of them are not as fortunate as I have been, and they do not have access to basic necessities such as education and healthcare. But because of your HIV donor program, we have been given hope. Hope for a better future, a future where we can be self-reliant and contribute positively to our society.

The psychosocial support provided by the program has been invaluable. Living with HIV can be very isolating and stigmatizing, but through PEPFAR's OVC program, I have been able to connect with other children and young adults who are going through similar experiences. This has helped me to feel less alone and more empowered to live my life to the fullest. Your support has not only impacted us individually but also our families and communities. You have given us a chance to break the cycle of poverty and disease that has plagued our families for generations.

While the basic support currently provided has been instrumental in meeting the immediate needs of many OVC, I believe there is an urgent need to extend our services beyond this initial stage. Specifically, we would like to draw your attention to the challenges faced by those OVC who have successfully graduated from secondary school but still find themselves in vulnerable situations. The transition from university and secondary school to adulthood is a critical period for all youth, but for OVC, it poses unique challenges. These young individuals often lack the necessary support systems to navigate this phase successfully, leaving them susceptible to a range of difficulties.

In conclusion, I would like to say thank you. Thank you for your selflessness, your generosity, and your love for children and young adults living positively.  It has provided us with the medical care, education, nutrition, and psychosocial support we need to thrive and overcome the challenges we face. You have given us a chance to live, a chance to dream, and a chance to be somebody. You are the reason why we can look forward to a brighter future, and for that, we will always be grateful.

Thank you. God Bless All.

-Aron Kiprotich"


- a pepfar Kenya story of hope -