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Women, children worst hit in Kenya as government, agencies scale up war against Aids

By INB AFRICA NEWS | 6 years ago

NAIROBI, KENYA: HIV/Aids first hit the country in 1984. Today, it has left in its wake untold suffering, with women and children heavily bearing the brunt.

The virus has caused suffering and death – wiping out families, leaving many children orphaned and consumed billions of shillings in efforts to stamp out.

Latest government statistics show that 1.6 million people still live with the virus since the first case was reported 30 years ago.

The reports also indicate an estimated 1.7 million Kenyans have died of Aids-related complications since it was first reported. However, the report noted that Aids-related deaths had dropped by two thirds — from 130,000 annually in 2002-2004 to 49,126 in 2011.

The report recommends that National Aids Control Council (NACC) be financially strengthened to provide “strong coordination mechanisms” under the devolved system.

The report, however, established hiccups in funds allocation to different areas of the HIV response.

It states; “There were parallel financing systems with little coordination among donors”.

“The domestic financing mechanisms remain highly inadequate while high costs of HIV/Aids commodities, and declining international commitment and resources for HIV and Aids have become threats to the national response,” the report says.

And despite Government’s concerted efforts to stem its spread, there were 88,620 new infections among adults in 2013, according to the Kenya HIV Estimates Report 2014.

Of these, the majority – 50,530 – were women and 12,940 children.

The report says since 2004, new HIV infections stabilised at about 90,000 per year.

Women and children are the worst hit, with the report showing that HIV prevalence among young females aged between 15 and 24 was higher than that of males in the same age group.

“Teenage girls in this age group,” the report says, “account for 21 per cent of all new HIV”.

Nationally, whereas prevalence among women stands at 7.6, the men’s is at 5.6 per cent.

Speaking on the 30-year HIV/Aids milestone, NACC Head of Communications, Jennifer Wambua, said they are proud of their achievement in controlling the deadly virus.

“NACC has coordinated various agencies involved in dealing with various aspects to contain HIV/Aids and we feel proud about it,” she said.

Over the last 10 years, the report says, annual Aids-related deaths have declined.

Approximately 58,465 people died of Aids related causes last year compared to 167,000 in 2003, the report says.

“The decline is attributed to the wider access to anti-retroviral treatment, availed with the roll out of free provision of drugs in 2003,” the report says.

The report document’s the epidemic’s geographical diverseness, ranging from a prevalence of 25.7 in Homa bay County to 0.2 per cent in Wajir.

Counties with the highest adult HIV prevalence in 2013 include Homa Bay, Siaya, Kisumu, Migori, Kisii, Nairobi, and Turkana.

“Despite progress in advancing towards national targets, much remains to be done to halt and reverse the spread of HIV in Kenya,” the report says.

Impressive progress

But a review of Government’s efforts by independent consultants, picked by the NACC, revealed that the country conducted an impressive war against the virus.

The report, made early in the year noted that enrolling HIV-infected people in treatment, encouraging more people to get tested and the vigorous campaign for voluntary male circumcision, had boosted the country’s efforts in fighting HIV/Aids.

The review also noted that Kenya had achieved an estimated anti-retroviral treatment coverage of 81 per cent.

The proportion of people tested for HIV, the report said, had increased from 34 in 2007 to 72 per cent in 2012.

According to the report, the American government, under the Total War against Aids, spent Sh4.4 billion on 10,712 small projects with local organisations during the five years under review.

Other major development partners included (US) President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (Pepfar), World Bank, UNAids, Global Fund and Japan International Cooperation Agency.

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