Dr.Joe Muriuki, First Kenyan to disclose HIV status dies at 63

Dr Joe Muriuki, the first Kenyan to come out openly about his HIV status, has died. His wife Jane Ngima told the Nation by phone that Dr Muriuki...

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Dr Joe Muriuki, the first Kenyan to come out openly about his HIV status, has died.

His wife Jane Ngima told the Nation by phone that Dr Muriuki breathed his last at 7pm on Monday.

“He has been in and out of hospital and, unfortunately, we lost him,” Ms Ngima said.

Dr Muriuki, 63, publicly disclosed his status in 1989 and went on to live with HIV for more than 30 years.

Cancer diagnosis

In 2020, he was diagnosed with stage four cancer of the oesophagus.

His son Jeff Maina said that his father had been in hospital for about two weeks and was discharged for palliative care, which he attended for one week.

On Monday evening, he had breathing complications and was taken to a hospital in Ruiru, Nairobi, where he died.

“The oesophagus cancer affected his feeding and for some time, he could not eat properly. He needed a feeding tube and that was fixed in December. He did not fully regain strength and had been hospitalised until his untimely death,” Mr Maina said.

Dr Muriuki was daring and always had a positive attitude, said Nelson Otuoma, executive director of the National Empowerment Network of People Living with HIV/Aids in Kenya (Nephak).

Dr Muriuki’s close friend and member of Nephak, Anisia Karanja, who was with his family and friends at his death bed, said that he maintained his enthusiasm until the last minute.

“He told us that he had fought his battle with HIV/Aids and won, and that it was only cancer that knocked him off. He acknowledged his friends, saying they had become like family to him.”

“When he was in palliative care, we had plans to take him to a hospice so that he could rest, but, unfortunately, he died before we could fulfill that.”

Burial plans are underway and the family will announce a date later.

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