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Report: Covid-19 risks rolling back gains made in war on HIV

By VIVIANNE WANDERA | Wed,Jun 16 2021 08:07:12 EAT

 National Aids Control Council Chairperson Angeline Siparo speaks during the Maisha HIV Aids conference 2021. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

More Kenyan women tested for HIV than their male counterparts, a new report reveals.

A meeting dubbed the sixth Maisha HIV & Aids conference that kicked off on Monday in Nairobi was also told that the coronavirus pandemic risked curtailing the successes made in combating the disease.

Data from the conference organisers, the National Aids Control Council indicates that there were five million HIV tests conducted among clients over 10 years, out of which nearly three million were done on women.

The report also showed that Kenya’s HIV prevalence is 4.3 per cent with 5.5 per cent being women and 2.9 per cent men.

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In 2020, there were 32,027 new infections of all ages with 26, 826 being above the age of 15 and 5, 201 being children aged 14 and below. 42 per cent new adult infections among the youth.

There are 99,159 people living with HIV among adolescents aged between 10 and 19 years, and 5,294 new infections within the same age group. There are 173,228 people living with HIV among young adults aged between 15 and 24 years with the same age group having 11,229 new infections.

Currently, the country has 1.4 million people living with HIV. Of these, 1.3 million are adults aged above 15 and 78,465 are children under 14.

Keen to observe Covid-19 protocols, attendance included zoom.

The conference whose theme is Towards the last Mile: Resilience and Innovation brings together scientists, innovators, activists, programmers and other stakeholders “to share knowledge and evidence during these unprecedented times.”

Speaking at the conference, the National Aids Control Council Chair Angeline Siparo, said livelihood conversations in relation to people living with HIV and Aids “should not fall off the table.”

Disrupted livelihoods

She regretted that the most vulnerable in society including the old, poor and women and children bear the brunt of the Aids scourge through disrupted livelihoods, education, food security and economic stagnation.

“It is not possible for a patient to prioritise taking their ARV’S or TB medication when they have no place to sleep. A patient will not adhere to treatment if they are hungry... livelihoods conversation should not fall off the table and neither should the support of people living with HIV. There needs to be inclusion of psycho social support so that we make sure that by the time one comes to the doctor, they come knowing that they are not alone.”

Dr Rudi Eggers, the World Health Organisation Representative in Kenya, highlighted the global aids strategy for 2021- 2026 that was adopted last week in the UN General Assembly.  

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