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Government keen to promote effective actions to prevent HIV infections among key populations

Health CS says women and girls constitute 67% of new HIV infections.


Health Cabinet Secretary Nakhumicha Wafula announced Friday that the government will prioritize the promotion of more effective actions to address the HIV prevention needs among key populations such as women, girls, and children.

While noting that the country has a lot to celebrate in the fight against HIV/AIDS, having seen the rate of new HIV infections drop by 78%, as well as a 94% viral suppression rate among those on treatment, the CS argued that threats still exist, especially among adolescent girls and young women who are at high risks of becoming infected, with the number of girls who acquire HIV during adolescence rising.

“Women and girls who constitute 67% of new HIV infections. Children face a high mother-to-child HIV transmission rate which stands at 8.6%. Adolescents aged 10–19 are vulnerable to various risks of acquiring HIV,” the CS said during celebrations to mark World AIDS Day in Meru.

“As we address these gaps, special attention must be given to children and adolescents. It is unacceptable to overlook sexual violence against children, and we invite stakeholders to join us in ending the Triple Threat of new HIV infections, pregnancies, and sexual and gender-based violence among adolescents,” decried Nakhumicha

she said pregnancy among adolescent girls has severe health and social consequences, leading to intergenerational cycles of poverty, arguing that adolescent and young mothers experience worse HIV-related outcomes.

The CS disclosed that more than 260,000 girls aged 10 to 19 years old had their schooling disrupted last year.

The Cabinet Secretary said ending AIDS in children by 2027 is a key priority for the Kenya Kwanza Government, emphasizing a bottom-up approach.

“Our true joy lies in witnessing people living with HIV lead long and healthy lives. The Kenya Kwanza Government is committed to sustaining these gains, focusing on preventive healthcare as a key building block,” she said, even as she disclosed that in 2022, over 18,000 individuals succumbed to AIDS-related illnesses.

She said Kenya is gearing towards conducting its second national population HIV impact assessment in 2024 – 2025 to help establish Kenya’s attainment of HIV epidemic control by measuring HIV incidence, prevalence of viral load suppression and the status of 95-95-95 targets.

Nakhumicha disclosed that, currently, 97% of the estimated 1.4 million people living with HIV in Kenya have been diagnosed and are receiving treatment, representing an increase from the end 2022 performance of 94%.

This week, President Ruto commemorated the 20th anniversary of the US President’s Emergency Fund for HIV and AIDS in Kenya, expressing gratitude for the transformative leadership and resources dedicated to ending AIDS.