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AHF Kenya calls for action on World Aids Day amid rising adolescent HIV infections

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In observance of World AIDS Day, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) Kenya has voiced deep concerns regarding the escalating number of HIV infections among adolescents and young people in the country. Recent data from the National Syndemic Diseases Control Council (NSDCC) paints a stark reality, revealing a troubling statistic of 62 new HIV infections per week among adolescents aged 10-19.

The intersection of risks faced by adolescents, encompassing new HIV infections, unintended pregnancies, and exposure to sexual and gender-based violence, presents a complex scenario of vulnerabilities in this age group. AHF Kenya is advocating for comprehensive strategies that encompass sexual health education, access to reproductive health services, HIV transmission prevention, and initiatives combatting gender-based violence.

Dr. Jesse Kwatampora, Medical Director of AHF Kenya, underscored the imperative for targeted and collaborative efforts. “There is an urgent need for concerted and collaborative efforts between governmental bodies, NGOs, and local communities to address the underlying factors contributing to the rise in infections among adolescents, such as pregnancies and sexual and gender-based violence.”

Kenya’s HIV landscape showcases progress but with challenges. With 1.4 million people living with HIV, the nation reached 1,294,339 individuals on antiretroviral therapy in 2022. Despite this progress, there were 18,473 AIDS-related deaths and 22,154 new HIV infections in the same year.

The commitment to increase domestic financing for the HIV response is apparent, targeting 50% by the end of 2025, reaching 34% by the close of 2022. Commodity security, especially contributing the required KES 25.8 billion, remains a crucial priority for the nation’s ongoing battle against HIV/AIDS.

Commending recent government efforts announced by CS Nakhumicha Wafula to eradicate HIV/AIDS in children by 2027 and increase financial support, Dr. Kwatampora highlighted the gravity of the situation with 66% of new infections concentrated in 15 counties, some previously deemed low-risk.

In line with the World AIDS Day theme ‘Let Communities Lead’, AHF calls for a multifaceted approach, including creating supportive environments to empower adolescents, fostering informed decisions about their sexual and reproductive health, while actively promoting gender equality and challenging societal norms contributing to vulnerability.

In response to the urgent need for action, AHF unveiled the AHF Comprehensive Care Clinic at Moi-Voi Referral Hospital, valued at 6.5 million. This state-of-the-art facility aims to provide comprehensive care and support to communities affected by HIV/AIDS. The urgent need for such a clinic is accentuated by the statistics, emphasizing the concentrated nature of new infections in specific regions.

Speaking at the clinic’s launch, Mr. Andrew Mwadime, Governor of Kwale County, acknowledged strides made but highlighted the concerning increase in new infections. “This trend underscores the need to strengthen community involvement in our ongoing battle against HIV,” he said.

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