HIV in Kenya:Much remains to be done

HIV in Kenya

Status:

Have we done enough to address matters regarding HIV in Kenya?This article seeks to she more light on this.

HIV and AIDS continue to be a disaster in many African countries. Kenya is no exception.

Prevalence:

Kenya has an estimated population of 39 million and estimated adult HIV prevalence of 7.1% (15-64 years).  Recent surveys have shown that 64% of adult Kenyans had never been tested for HIV. The prevalence of HIV in Kenya varies by region and gender. It is highest in Nyanza , Nairobi , and Coast Provinces .

Overall, HIV prevalence is higher for women (8.4%) than men (5.4%) except for the age-group 40-44 yrs where HIV prevalence in women is 9.4% and in men is 10.2%. There are several contributing factors. These include women have poor safe sex negotiation skills; the patriarchal society that we live in where decision making power is vested with the men; socio-economic disparities between men and women.

Efforts have been made to increased access to care and treatment services by persons infected with HIV. However treatment remains elusive to many. Few health facilities are able to carry out tests to establish the CD4 counts of those already infected. This therefore means that those eligible for ART miss out on early treatment or patients get initiated on ART when they could just have been given Septrin and encouraged to eat well.

In line with this gap in treatment and knowledge of status that the Government of Kenya has devised strategies geared towards promoting universal access to HIV testing, care and treatment by 80% by the year 2013.

One of the key strategies is HIV prevention through HIV testing and early infant diagnosis.

HIV prevention:

HIV Testing and Counseling is recognized as a key prevention strategy which can reinforce positive behaviors among HIV negative persons and assist HIV positive patients to keep their partners and family members healthy.

Testing for HIV is a central strategy being utilised to increased early access to relevant treatment by those found HIV positive. HIV testing is an entry into care.

The Government of Kenya has championed the scale up of client-initiated voluntary HIV counseling and testing since 2001 and of expanded access to routine provider-initiated HIV testing since 2004. However  the National AIDS and STI Control Program  has  recognized the need to expand and bring to scale a range of previously piloted HIV testing and counseling interventions including workplace, mobile, outreach and home-based services as well as specific programs targeting most at risk and vulnerable populations.

This means that Kenyans and those visiting Kenya can know their HIV status through diverse approaches.

However, it is not clear on whether this increment in HIV testing outlets will help in increasing knowledge of HIV status, reduction in stigma & discrimination, and early access to treatment.

It is also not clear whether the government is well prepared to cater for the HIV prevention, care and treatment needs of its populace. Recently there were reports in the media on the existing shortage of condoms. There have also been instances where the recommended WHO ART regimen cannot be prescribed due to the costs.

HIV in Kenya is now no longer considered to be an emergency in Kenya, but rather as a disease that is in its chronic phase.

This leaves you, the reader of this article with a question on, “how best can the government of Kenya effectively respond to HIV and AIDS?”.

Together we can give suggestions on how best to address matters regarding HIV in Kenya.

 

 

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