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Bill Gates: Kenya ahead of South Africa in fight against HIV

 President William Ruto meets with American business tycoon Bill Gates at State House Nairobi. [PCS]

Bill Gates has applauded Kenya's efforts in the fight against HIV, unlike most African countries which have not attained her ambitious treatment target of 90:90:90-which is the United Nations target of ensuring at least 90 per cent of people living with HIV know their HIV status, 90 per cent of all diagnosed cases receive antiretroviral therapy, and those on ARVs have their immune suppressed.

"Kenya has achieved her target," said the American business magnate and philanthropist during a media engagement at the University of Nairobi yesterday. "Some countries like South Africa did not get there."

In Kenya, an estimated 1.5 million people are living with HIV of which 1.4 million are adults and over 100, 000 are children aged 0- 14 years, according to the Ministry of Health.

At least 1.2 million people are on HIIV treatment, an increase from 600,000 in 2013.

ARVs are used for treatment and prevention, including the prevention of mother-to-child transmission.

ARVs suppress viral load which depends on the consistent and sustained use of ARVs.

Besides the USA which is the highest funder of HIV treatment and programs, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is the other entity supporting HIV research and treatment.

But Gates regretted that despite the Foundation investing in the trial of tenofovir, a drug aimed at preventing HIV infections if taken daily, it did not succeed.

With 100 per cent compliance, Gates observed HIV would have been ended and "we were hoping that everyone at risk of getting infected would get it (tenofovir). However, uptake of the drug was very limited with less than 20 per cent."

Gates said the Foundation is working on a drug that offers 60 days and six months' protection against HIV and which will be available in the next four years.

Gates said the Foundation is also proud to have low maternal, neonatal, and under-five deaths reported in Kenya through various initiatives and he was also proud that the country has reduced deaths rate from eight per cent under five deaths rate to four per cent.

Gates jetted into Kenya Monday and has been engaging various scientists, small-scale farmers, and government officials including President William Ruto.

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