We need to change tact in tackling HIV/Aids, Health CAS says

There is need for the government and the players in the HIV/Aids sector to change tact and incorporate more innovative and efficient methods of dealing with the disease.

Ministry of Health Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Rashid Aman said the country has had many milestones in the past 10 years and there is need to have specialised approach.

The target should also be on most at risk population which mainly involve the youth aged between 14-24 years who register 51 percent of new infections.

The CAS said 75 percent of persons living with HIV in Kenya had been tested and were on care, with 95 percent of them receiving HIV treatment and 83 percent having reached the viral suppression.

Aman was speaking on Sunday, while officially opening the 2018 HIV prevention, care, and treatment scientific conference themed turning the tide.

He said access to treatment especially for the youth aged between 15 and 24 years remains low and only 65 percent of children and youth on HIV treatment are able to achieve suppression of the virus.

To win the war on HIV and achieve zero new infections, we must consolidate our efforts and target the key population who are most affected by stigma and HIV related deaths, said the CAS.

He added that the government was now focusing on more innovative approaches such as self-testing kits, prompt diagnostic and treatment of pregnant mothers to avoid mother to child transmission.

Only 70 percent of infants have access to these testing facilities and diagnostic programmes under the infant diagnosis programme and we need to increase these numbers, said Aman.

He added that less than a month ago the ministry launched the 2018 guidelines for HIV treatment which introduces new, safer and more effective methods of tackling the pandemic.

Aman said that Kenya was in the process of building a stronger and resilient health system with better financing mechanisms relying on domestic financing to ensure sustainability of HIV response.

As we grow economically we have to realize that we have moved out of the economies that attract foreign aid and so it is important to look internally for more resources to sustain our programmes, insisted the CAS.

Dr. Kawango Agot the founder and CEO Impact Research and Development Organisation (IRDO) said there was need to move the focus from the commercial sex workers and target the men who are the transmission link between the infected sex workers and their wives and other sex partners.

According to our research, at least 27 percent of sex workers are HIV positive. Most of them charge between Shs100 to 500 per day with most making between shs500 to shs2, 500 per per week, explained Agot.

She observed that 30 percent of the sex workers joined before they were 18 years old while 67 percent joined by the time they were 19 years old mostly influenced by friends and poverty.

Men were a bridge between sex workers and the general public, there is need for interventions addressing the men since most are targeted by the sex workers, she said.

Prof. Ruth Nduati from the University of Nairobi the School of Medicine, College of Health Sciences said East and Southern Africa host half of the world population with HIV aids.

There is higher mortality among girls who are infected with HIV with research indicating that girls aged between 15-24 years are five times more likely to die compared to their male counterparts, she said.

She added that HIV positive women between the ages of 15-24 had 25 percent more chances of dying than HIV negative women.

Source: Kenya News Agency