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Youth HIV Pre-Conference Underway in Kisumu

A pre-conference that seeks to enhance the engagement of youth ahead of the 1st International conference on reducing HIV in adolescents and youth (RHAY 2020) scheduled for 2020 has kicked off in Kisumu.
The conference themed, “Nothing for us without us” is a response to the alarming statistics of high prevalence of HIV among the adolescents and Youth in the country and for Kisumu County in particular.”
The event brings together stakeholders in the HIV sector, including experts from Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI), Impact Research Development Organization (IRDO) and Nyanza Initiative for Girls Education and Empowerment (NIGEE) among other Key stakeholders.
According to Prof. Kawango Agot of IRDO, the event is a prelude to the RHAY 2020 that is intended to provide a platform for young people in Eastern and Southern Africa working in HIV research programmes and advocacy to share their work.
Agot says the conference will also provide an opportunity for senior researchers to share their work on HIV among adolescent and young people (AYP) at a level that AYP can understand and identify with.
“The idea is to get AYP, mostly between the age of 13 to 24 years of age, actively involved in coming up with measures to curb rising prevalence of HIV within this age bracket,” said Agot
Speaking at the official launch of the 2-day conference at the Tom Mboya Labour College, Agot revealed that at least 500 people will be attending the RHAY conference, half of whom are expected to be 30 years and below.
She also disclosed that between 10 to 15 of abstract papers to be presented at the conference are to be published in a global scientific journal.
Prof. Elizabeth Bukusi, a co-director at KEMRI, noted that Kisumu is of special interest to conference after it was ranked among the top five counties with highest new HIV infections rates among the youthful population in recent studies.
Bukusi said that high incidences of teenage pregnancies reported in Kisumu and the underlying impact on the spread of HIV is also a source of concern to the stakeholders.
“To prevent new infection and to get the young population already infected by HIV on medication as soon as possible will be central to the discussions in the RHAY 2020 conference,” Bukusi explained
Cynthia Achieng, a 19-year-old living with HIV, shared sentiments similar to the conveners and termed the conference as an opportunity for the voice of the millions of teens affected by the Aids scourge to be heard.
By Milton Onyango

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