A Community Based Organization (CBO) in Kisumu has embarked on distribution of alarm wrist watches to enhance adherence to Anti-Retroviral (ARVs) drugs to tame adolescent HIV mortality in the area.
The Winam Care for Adolescents (Winamcaf), a brainchild of Claricentina Awuor, born HIV positive 25 years ago has so far distributed wrist watches to 250 adolescents in the area. The wrist watches have an alarm system set to remind the wearers it is time to take ARVs.
According to Awuor, thousands of adolescents in the area among them children succumb to HIV Aids because they were not tested and put on ARV’s, while for those already on ARV’s, she added, adherence remained a big challenge making it difficult for them to achieve viral suppression.
According to data drawn from the 2014 Demographic and Health Survey, 2012 Kenya AIDS indicator Survey and the 2014 Basic Education Statistical Booklet, 6.2 % of adolescents (16-24) in the county are HIV positive. This is 3 times the number of the national youth HIV prevalence which stands at 2.0%.
The National Aids Control Council (NACC) estimates about 16,000 children in the area are living with HIV.
The county has a youthful population with people below age 15 making up 43% of the population.
So far 7,586 have been identified and started on antiretroviral therapy (ART). 5,172 (30%) of those on antiretroviral therapy have been virally suppressed.
The Kisumu Central HIV Coordinator, Dr. Dorothy Okech said Kisumu bears one of the highest HIV burden in the country with prevalence rate standing at 16%.
Speaking on Sunday during the official launch of the CBO in Kisumu, Dr. Okech said adolescents (16-24) recorded the highest number of new infections in the area.
In as much as the county has made great strides in achieving 90% viral suppression amongst people living with HIV, she said the same is yet to be realized amongst adolescents.
The Viral suppression amongst adolescents, she said was below 80 %, adding that the initiative by Winam Care will go a long way in enhancing adherence to ARV treatment to achieve 90% suppression.
The Kondele Member of County Assembly (MCA), Joachim Okech asked the county government to support the initiative to ensure that all adolescents living with HIV are put on treatment and given the wrist watches to enhance adherence.
He pledged to push for allocation of more funds through the assembly to help fight the disease amongst adolescents who have been worst hit.
By Chris Mahandara