The government has adopted a National Condom Strategy to promote safe sex amongst sexually-active adolescents as a way of stemming a wave of new HIV infections in the country.
National Aids Control Council (NACC) says the move is meant to ensure there is adequate distribution of quality condoms to help curb new HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.
Speaking at Taita-Taveta University on Saturday during the celebrations to mark International Condoms Day, Mr. Joshua Gitonga, NACC’s Acting Deputy Director for Policy, Monitoring and Research said distribution points have been mapped out nationally and will be installed with dispensers for maximum reach.
“The distribution points will enhance condom accessibility to users and to down pregnancies, HIV infection rate and other sexually-transmitted diseases in Kenya,” he said.
Statistics by National Aids Control Council (NACC) show that in 2019, adolescents contributed to over 42 % of the burden of new HIV infections in the country.
In Kenya, 1.5 million people are living with HIV/AIDS and while the numbers of new infections show a downward trend, Mr. Gitonga says the war against HIV/AIDS is far from over and called for more efforts towards combating the pandemic.
Mr. Gitonga added that the council was working closely with faith-based organizations to promote the gospel of abstinence amongst the youth in the country.
He said that while 50 per cent of the youth were sexually-active and were being encouraged to use condoms, the other half was abstaining, thus the need to work with churches to encourage such behavior.
“The faith-based groups will support this war against HIV by encouraging abstinence,” he added.
Taita-Taveta County was the host for the national event, with several organizations present including AIDS Health Foundation, NASCOP and Pathfinder International.
Department of Health officials in the county government termed the fight against HIV/AIDS as an ongoing war and asked the national government for more investment into the initiative.
County health boss John Mwakima said Taita Taveta remained very vulnerable to getting new infections due to the activities of Nairobi-Mombasa Highway and the border activities at the Kenya-Tanzania border.
Currently, the county has an HIV infection rate of 3.4 per cent with 144 new infections reported last year.
“We are not dropping our guard and are committed to fighting this scourge,” he said, adding that the county government has allocated Sh6 million to HIV/AIDS activities in the county.
Despite the major strides made in fighting the pandemic in the country, NACC expressed concerns over the high number of teen pregnancies in the country during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mr. Gitonga noted that the thousands of pregnancies reported in the country pointed to a spike in cases of unprotected sex.
“Whenever there is unprotected sex, the risk of exposure is high. That should be an issue of concern for all,” he said.
He further disclosed plans by the government to enhance the HIV/AIDS funding activities where 50 per cent of the programs will be funded through domestic taxes to cut off overreliance on foreign aids.
by Wagema Mwangi