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Makueni County on track in combating HIV

The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Kenya has lauded the Makueni government for efforts in combating HIV in the county, with HIV viral suppression currently at 96 per cent.

CDC Kenya Country Director Dr. Jennifer Galbraith said on Tuesday in Wote that achievements had been made through the support of the US President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (PEPFAR) to support HIV prevention, care, and treatments.

“In Makueni County, the US Government, through CDC Kenya, invests nearly 1.5 million US dollars, which is equivalent to more than Sh200 million annually, to support HIV prevention, care, and treatment programmes in the county,” said Galbraith.

“Because of this support and the great work you are doing, Makueni County is approaching HIV epidemic control. HIV viral suppression is at 96 per cent, which has great potential if maintained to reduce HIV transmission and keep people living with HIV healthy,” she noted.

Galbraith spoke during the launch of the county’s HIV transition roadmap, which is a key pillar in achieving sustainability of HIV programming at the Makueni Mother and Child Hospital.

She was accompanied by Governor Mutula Kilonzo, health officers, and partners from CIHEB Kenya and LVCT.

Also, during the event, Galbraith and Kilonzo presided over the graduation of 40 children who are HIV-free and were born to HIV-positive mothers.

“As a result of the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV, 2,607 babies were confirmed to be HIV-free at 24 months post-delivery between 2017 and 2022,” added Galbraith.

She further said 21,672 people living with HIV are on treatment, including 18,942 adults, 1,812 young people, and 918 children. She noted that Makueni has done a great job leading the adoption of innovative strategies and demonstrating the ability to advance sustainable development to promote the health sector.

“Makueni was among the first counties to transition programme staff from CDC’s implementing partner to county public service payroll and employ HIV testing counsellors, a cadre that is not in the current national scheme of service,” she noted.

Galbraith said that from January 2023, the CDC will fund the county directly through an ongoing cooperative agreement dubbed “Uzinduzi” which provides HIV service delivery services in Mbooni sub-county.

Kilonzo said stopping the transmission of HIV from mother to child is critical, adding that no infant or young child should acquire HIV when there are universally accessible medicines to prevent it.

However, he assured that the county would revamp HIV awareness campaigns and challenged men to take a central role in ensuring they get tested.

The governor praised the mothers for taking their antiretroviral medicine consistently and correctly, thereby keeping their infants HIV-free during pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding.

By Ronald Rono

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