New HIV infections now on the decline, 'but still below target'

NACC Deputy Director Policy Monitoring and Research John Kamigwi speaks to journalists during NACC joint AIDS end term review at Merica Hotel on April 25, 2019. [Harun Wathari/Standard]
National Aids Control Council has marked the rate of new HIV infection in counties as "significantly dropping" with 61 per cent reduction in HIV-related deaths among children.

The stakeholders, while meeting in Nakuru yesterday, noted that 19 counties had lately experienced a decrease in adults and adolescent new HIV infections while reduction in number of new child infections had reduced by 38 per cent.

Infections in the country, the stakeholders noted, had reduced by 49 per cent between 2015 and 2017.

Deputy Director, Policy, Monitoring and Research at NACC John Kamigwi said the counties were meeting to review the progress they had made on treatment programmes, HIV related deaths among others. “A lot of progress has been made and there is significant reduction in new infection rates in some counties, although targets to reduce new infections by 75 per cent by June this year are yet to be met,” said Mr Kamigwi (pictured).

The 2019 facts sheets revealed that there had been a significant reduction in HIV-related deaths between 2013 and last year, with figures dropping from 58,465 to 28,214.

Up to 635,500 deaths were averted due to scale-up on the use of anti-retroviral drugs by 2017.

Kamigwi, however, said there was need for counties to be involved. “HIV and AIDS programmes are heavily dependent on donor-funding and it is time counties also budgeted for these programmes," he said.

Reverend Canon Rosemary Mbogo, member of the board and secretary of the Anglican Church, said despite a lot of progress made, the big challenge lay in the high rates of new infections among young people.

"We have made progress as a country in reducing the prevalence rates from 14 per cent in 1990s to the current 4.6 per cent. The problem, however, lies in the alarming rate of new infections among youth between 18 and 24, which is spreading like bush fire," said the Reverend Mbogo.

She said although HIV prevalence rates were on the decrease at national level, the ratio was not uniform in counties. This, she said, called for more attention and emphasis on treatment and awareness.

According to NACC, prevalence rates declined from 5.9 in 2015 to 4.6 last year. It said 30 counties had prevalence rates between 2 and 4.9 per cent while only 10 had prevalence rates less than 2 per cent.

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National Aids Control CouncilHIV-related deaths