Health officials have raised the red flag over high HIV prevalence in the county, which now stands at 5.4 per cent above the national average of 4.9 per cent.
County HIV coordinator Sammy Sande said there has been a steady rise in HIV prevalence from 2013 when it stood at 3.8 per cent. In 2015, the figure increased to 4.7 per cent and now stands at 5.4 per cent.
Persons living with HIV are about 19,935, with new infections among adults being 663.
The county has a population of 590,013 with a population density of 1,047 per square kilometre.
“A few years ago, our rates were down but they have increased again over the years. We cannot say we are doing very well, but we are trying very much to curb the menace,” Mr Sande said.
Sande spoke to journalists during the preparations to mark World Aids Day on December 1. The HIV coordinator noted that Aids-related deaths among adults was 299. He also said children living with HIV are 1,590.
“Paediatric new HIV infection is 164, while paediatric HIV-related deaths are 73. Youths living with HIV are 2,629, youth new HIV infections stand at 224 and youth HIV-related deaths is 47,” he said.
According to the county health records, the 2013-2014 estimates of the infected persons stood at around 14,100, and the new infections increased steadily to 19,389 in the 2015/2016 estimates.
Of concern are the mother-to-child infections which stand at 7.3 per cent, 2.3 per cent more than the targeted national average of less than 5 per cent.
County Aids and STIs coordinator Sabenzia Ulwenya noted that despite the free maternal healthcare in the country, a majority of women come to health institutions in their third trimester.
“Many pregnant women come late to the clinics, some even at eight months of their pregnancy. Some of them do not come to the clinics completely and give birth at home, thus complicating the matrix” Ms Ulwenya said.
Kenya Aids NGOs Consortium western region coordinator Maureen Asembo told The Standard they were working to help reduce cases of new HIV infections at the grassroots through public education. Among the five sub-counties, Luanda leads with a 2 per cent transmission rate and Hamisi 1.8 per cent.