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Experts raise concern over increased cases of mother-to-child HIV transmission

Calls to have resilient healthcare systems reverberated at the opening of the 7th Maisha conference in the wake of increased new infections among children and young adults.

 According to medical services Principal Secretary Harry Kimtai, the sluggish pace in curtailing new HIV infections among children and adolescents remain a pressing concern with young people constituting 41 percent of new infections.

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“In 2022 alone, an average of 141 new HIV infections were reported among adolescents and young adults aged 15-24 every week,” Observed Kimtai.

With Kenya bearing the 8th highest burden of HIV globally with approximately 1.4 million people living with HIV, Kimtai said it was the duty of every player to persist in the pursuit of innovative interventions to eliminate AIDS as a public health threat in Kenya.

This even as he remained upbeat that Kenya’s efforts towards elimination of HIV has been enhanced through the adoption of scientific advancements that have seen reduction in annual new HIV infections by 78%, plummeting from 101,500 cases in 2012 to approximately 22,154 cases in 2022.

This amid concerns over the high rates of mother-to-child HIV transmission which have remained alarmingly high at 8.3%.

According to National Syndemic Diseases Control Council chief executive officer Dr. Ruth Masha, though the country has managed to reduce the HIV incidents from 0.4 to 0.25 percent, mother to child transmissions(MTCT) have remained stubborn with National MTCT rate averaging 8.6% with significant geographical disparity ranging from 5 to 38.8%.

The situation, according to Masha is worse in Mandera county where 38 per cent of babies born to HIV-positive mothers were also positive with Wajir following closely at 29.6 per cent, Samburu 25.7 per cent with Narok averaging 21.1 percent.

67% (2,989) of cases of mother-to-child transmission of HIV were attributed to either pregnant and breastfeeding women not receiving anti-retro-viral treatment (35%) or having their treatment interrupted (32%).

Experts at the conference calling for amplification of the voices of children as well as ring fencing funding for children to ensure they are not left out in ongoing efforts.
Kenya PEPFAR coordinator Brian Rettman says there is need to develop new models that brings services and drugs closer to the patient recognizing the disease is different across the country as well as build capacities for counties and health facilities to ensure they are prepared for the transition.

Two documents, the multi-sectoral HIV Prevention Acceleration Plan 2023-2023 and a roadmap for Achieving Whole Society Commitment to End the Triple Threat 2023-2027, were also launched on the first day of the conference.










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