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Concern raised over poor funding as new guidelines increase need for ARVs

Health & Science

The number of Kenyans eligible to get HIV drugs has risen by at least 214,000.

The sharp increase follows the Government’s new strategy that requires patients to start using the medication much earlier than before.

Health Cabinet Secretary James Macharia said Kenyans whose immune systems are still strong are eligible for antiretroviral treatment to reduce chances of spreading the disease and improve their quality of life, as recommended by the World Health Organisation.

Currently, at least 680,000 people living with HIV are receiving treatment under the old guidelines. This means the number of those who qualify for the drugs is nearing the million mark with adoption of the new guidelines.

But activists warn that this year’s Sh2 billion budget to fight the pandemic falls far short if more patients are to receive treatment and the rate of new infections is to be reduced.

“The Government must expand its domestic funding this financial year to close the treatment gap and begin to end Kenya’s Aids epidemic,” said Maureen Milanga of Health Gap and the Aids Law Project, adding that at least Sh3 billion is needed to fully implement the new guidelines.

National Empowerment Network of People Living with HIV and Aids in Kenya Executive Director Nelson Otuoma called on the State to activate the HIV Trust Fund put in place in 2013.

The latest Kenya Aids Indicator Survey indicates about 1.2 million Kenyan adults and 100,000 children are living with HIV and Aids.

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