Publish By David K. Barger
Updated 01/02/2013 5:13 am
NAIROBI, Jan. 31 — Kenya’s health officials said HIV/ AIDS exposed infants have reduced from 27 percent in 2007 to 14.9 percent in 2011, due to increased uptake of elimination of mother to child transmission (EMTCT) and voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC) services.
The prevalence in Kenya has peaked between 1995 and 1996 at 10. 5 percent, subsequently falling by approximately 40 percent and remaining stable for several years.
“Today, 69 percent of HIV positive pregnant women receives antiretroviral prophylaxis hence has reduced the proportion of HIV exposed infants from 27 percent in 2007 to 14.9 percent in 2011,” Orago said at the launch of the Kenya AIDS Epidemic update for the year 2012 in Nairobi.
The NACC director said it was important gains have been made in preventing new HIV infections through services that prevent mother to child transmission.
He revealed that Kenya performed more than 230,000 voluntary medical male circumcision procedures from November 2008 to December 2010 helping reduces the risk of female to male HIV transmission by 60 percent.
He said 1.6 million Kenyans are currently living with HIV/AIDS and are in dire need of antiretrovirals, adding that sexual transmission remains the primary driver of the epidemic in the country.
“Periodic household surveys indicate that Kenyans on average are less than half as likely to have multiple sex partners to day as in late 1990s while condom use has more than doubled,” he added.
Orago noted that the report places Kenya as a pivotal host for some of the most important HIV-related research studies in the World with expanding the evidence base to support more effective interventions.
He disclosed that a committee composed of government officials and development partners are in the process of developing a sessional paper on sustainable financing and trust fund that will be in operations by early 2014.
He noted that Kenya currently relies on funding from development partners with the U. S. government contributing 63 percent of the total amount.
“The sessional paper is meant to help accelerate the scaling up of a comprehensive HIV treatment, care and support to the citizens, ” he said. Orago called on the government to harmonize the national response efforts to help use resources efficiently and effectively.
“We need to have in place strong health systems in collaboration with partners to respond to HIV epidemics,” said Dr. Ibrahim Mohamed, head of the National AIDS and STI Control Program (NASCOP).
Mohamed said the government is in the process of promoting emerging best practices to help educate the public on the dangers of the scourge.
He noted that given that HIV/AIDS the first disease burden worldwide, the country’s documentations must be in line with the international priorities.
According to Catherine Perry, an official at the U. S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya is the leading recipient of President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) funding in the region.
Perry said that despite Kenya making good progress in HIV/AIDS management, a lot still need to be done to ensure the country manages to reduce the number of infections.
Washington’s PEPFAR program is the largest HIV initiative in Kenya that provides antiretroviral treatment, HIV prevention programming, blood safety interventions and assistance for HIV orphaned children.
The report calls for the establishment of a high profile multi- pronged strategy that is aimed at expanding grassroots community involvement and bridging capacity gaps and also ensures sufficient
financial resources to address the long term challenge posed by AIDS.
The report noted that social factors such as gender inequality, sexual violence and anti HIV stigma increases HIV risk and vulnerability.
According to the report, intensified efforts are needed to enhance coordination, harmonization and alignment of the national response.