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Report reveals Kenya’s strides towards elimination of AIDS

The Ministry of Health recently released a report tracking the AIDS response in 2023, revealing significant progress in the health response.

The World AIDS Day Report 2023, which was officially launched at Kinoru Stadium, Meru on 1st December 2023, elaborates the progress made in Kenya’s HIV epidemic, citing accessibility to HIV prevention and treatment interventions.

In her remarks at the launch on World AIDS Day on December 1, Health Cabinet Secretary Susan Nakhumicha lauded the communities’ important role in combating HIV/AIDS, and emphasized the need to incorporate HIV interventions into essential healthcare packages.

“I want to celebrate the heroes and heroines who are at the forefront of fighting stigma and discrimination,” said CS Nakhumicha.

According to the report, there are 1,377,784 Kenyans living with HIV in 2023, with 57 percent coming from 10 counties, namely; Kisumu (128,091), Nairobi (124,609), Homa Bay (120,600), Siaya (96,297), Migori (76,053), Nakuru (57,635), Mombasa (50,656), Kakamega (48,733), Kiambu (45,917) and Kisii (42,210).

The report further reveals that between 2013 and 2022, there has been a substantial decline (68 percent) of AIDS-related deaths, attributed to the availability and access of ARVs from 58,446 to 18,743.

When it comes to new HIV infections, a decline by 78 percent in the last 10 years, from 101,448 in 2013 to 22,154 in 2022 proving significant advancement in the last decade.

Specific statistics from the report showed that the country is on the right track towards eliminating AIDS in children, with a drop by 65 percent since 2013 from 12,826 to 4,474 in 2022.

On the flipside, the highest of AIDS-related deaths recorded, 54 percent, were amongst people aged 30-54 years.

A staggering finding in the report revealed that amongst these deaths, men were the leading population, at 48 percent. Men account for 35 percent of all total people living with HIV in Kenya. These statistics call for emphasis towards targeted interventions for men and boys to reduce AIDS-related deaths amid the population.

Adolescents and young people aged 15-34 accounted for 75 percent of new infections in 2022, while the most common mode of transmission was through sexual contact and injecting drug use.

The report also highlighted sexual and gender-based violence, teen pregnancies and poor uptake and use of HIV prevention methods.

With an aim to address these challenges towards a HIV-free generation, the report outlines 10 action points, which aims to address HIV in high-burden counties and decrease HIV infection rates in counties with a rising proportion of new infections.

In addition, it includes a comprehensive plan to eliminate AIDS among children by 2027, which includes identification of pregnant mothers who were not screened for HIV and syphilis. Furthermore, the plan addresses risks and vulnerabilities faced by adolescents, including pregnancies, sexual and gender-based violence, alcohol, drugs, and substance abuse.

Emphasis is likewise placed on early diagnosis and treatment access for men and boys aged 15 to 34. Other objectives include to bridge coverage gaps, address HIV-related stigma, and optimize resource utilization.

By Laura Thuo

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