- Written by Peace Loise Mbae
Kenya has progressed in confronting HIV epidemic dropping the prevalence from 13 percent a decade ago to 6 percent.
According to the Cabinet Secretary (CS) for Health, Dr. Cleopa Mailu 72per cent of Kenyans have been tested at least once and stigma levels now stand at 45 per cent.Likewise, the Scale-up of Anti-Retroviral Therapy to over 1.1 million Kenyans living with HIV has enabled the country to avert close to half a million deaths.
Dr. Mailu made the remarks through the Principal Secretary for Health Mr. Julius Korir during the celebrations to mark the World Aids Day.
“We are grateful to our Development Partners for their commitment to continue pushing towards our ambitious targets as outlined in our AIDS Strategic Framework of reducing new infections by 75 per cent, AIDS-related deaths by 25 per cent and Stigma and Discrimination by 50 per cent,” said Dr. Mailu.
However, the CS pointed out that despite the strides, numerous challenges still exist especially the new infections among Adolescents and Young People.
“Half of all new infections in Kenya occurred among young People aged 15-24 which translates to 100 new infections daily. This is attributed to limited uptake of all health services, high risk sexual and other behaviors that predispose young people to ill health,” he said.
He urged every person to take responsibility to stop the spread of the pandemic in line with this year’s theme “Step Up for HIV Prevention.”
This theme gives impetus for interventions that harness the youth demographic dividend. This includes keeping the Youth Population free of HIV, ensuring access to medication for those who are HIV Positive and ensuring that no child suffers stigma and discrimination.
The CS announced that Kenya will be undertaking the HIV Impact Assessment Survey in 2018 and expressed optimism that the outcome will be impressive given the concerted efforts of all stakeholders.
He lauded the commitment to the adoption of Evidence-based HIV interventions such as HIV Testing, Care and Treatment uptake which is facilitated by the Ministry of Health and County Governments as implementers and strengthened Systems and Policy Frameworks which is managed by various Agencies such as National AIDS Control Council and the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority.
“Our collaboration with the Ministry of Education has seen HIV Education embedded in the new curriculum and globally, our leadership position for HIV prevention is demonstrated within the Global HIV Prevention Coalition,” he noted.
He added that the Ministry will ensure that HIV/AIDS is entrenched as a Thematic Area in Kenya’s Medium Term Plan III, which focuses on the effectiveness, efficiency, and sustainability of the Multi-Sectoral HIV response and equitable HIV response that ensures no one is left behind.
“We are also committed to increasing Domestic and Sustainable Financing for HIV as well as Non-Communicable Diseases as we believe this will increase Access to Universal Healthcare and ultimately subsidize Kenya’s future liability from HIV Prevention and Treatment.
Between 2014 and 2016, Government financing for the HIV response was risen by 29 per cent from Ksh.20.4 Billion to Ksh.26.4 Billion and we endeavor to sustain increased Financing,” he noted.
The CS also commended Maisha Youth, Sauti Skika, and Generation Next among other networks for young people for organizing the World Aids Day National event and urged them to join hands as Communities of Practice to reach out to other young people in promoting uptake of Critical Health Services, including HIV Testing, Treatment and Prevention.