Partners called upon to cooperate in the fight against HIV/AIDS

The Turkana County government has expressed the need for collaboration among stakeholders in the fight against HIV/AIDS in the region.

This call comes as the Turkana County government stepped up fight against HIV/AIDS through coordination with development partners to ensure that all parts of the vast county are covered.

On Tuesday, health stakeholders came together during the launch of Elizabeth Glacier Pediatric Aids Foundation projects in Lodwar and stressed the importance of partnership in the fight against the scourge.

County health executive Jane Ajele said coordination with other partners has realized a 65 per cent decrease in HIV related deaths in children aged below 15 years and a 70 per cent decrease among adults aged 15 years and above since 2013.

Ms. Ajele said the current HIV prevalence rate is at 4 per cent down from 9.1 per cent in 2012 a year in which 110 children and 658 adults died of AIDS related conditions.

Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric Aids Foundation that has worked in Turkana for 12 years has currently launched programmes that are targeting adolescents, pregnant mothers and sex workers. Our common goal is to ensure that 90 per cent of residents know their status and are put on treatment, she said.

Ms. Ajele said that Timiza 90 programme strives to ensure that 90 percent of those put on treatment are virally suppressed so that there is a reduction in the spread of the virus.

Timiza 90 project coordinator Lazarus Momanyi said new HIV infections in adolescent and mother to child transmission of HIV is still on an upward trend.

HIV infected infants are not accessing testing in a timely manner meaning they don’t get antiretroviral therapy in a timely manner, and we are losing a lot of them in their first birthday and within their second birthday, Dr. Momanyi said.

He said that they are working with a total of 23 facilities in five sub counties where they provide services such as voluntary medical male circumcision.

We also have special programmes for adolescents where we are working with five high volume facilities to ensure that the adolescent who are infected are all linked to care and treatment and they stay on treatment, he said.

Dr. Momanyi said that they will work with schools, noting that because of stigma, students living with HIV don’t want to take medication while in school and therefore they will empower the teachers to support such victims.

Speaking during the launch of EGPAF projects, the organization director of technical services Dr Lucy Matu said stakeholders in the education, county and national government, and other Non-governmental organizations must work together to reduce new infections and increase access to anti retroviral drugs.

We need to work together regardless of our sectors because we all have a role to play in the fight against HIV/AIDS and stigma, said Dr Matu.

National Aids control council county coordinator Bernard Mwaura challenged parents to get involved in the lives of their children, citing dangers posed by the internet.

We need to speak about HIV/AIDS in social places, including bars because we can no longer continue hiding, Aids is a reality we must confront, said Mwaura.

Source: Kenya News Agency