About 170 children from Kirinyaga County have graduated from HIV Exposed Infants (HEI) program after successfully going through a two-year program aimed at protecting them from contracting the virus from their mothers.
The graduation event was carried out over the weekend across all the sub counties with an aim of appreciating the mothers who have been able to breastfeed and wean their babies without passing the virus to them.
The event was also used to create awareness of prevention of HIV, use of prophylaxes drugs, gender-based violence as well as experiences of mothers living with the virus.
The County Executive Committee Member of Health, Gladys Kimingi said that even though only a few mothers and their children were invited to the events due to Covid-19 restrictions, the program has been a success story and has seen mother to child transmissions reduced to 2 percent. She noted that without the program, transmissions rates could go up to 35 percent.
She said that the success of the program was a result of the mothers’ dedication in following all the guidelines provided in as far as handling their babies is concerned.
“The mothers have been able to breastfeed and wean their babies without risking their health and we are happy that these children are healthy and can live just like other children since they were protected from contracting the virus.” Said the CEC.
She added that the mothers will now move from Prevention of Mother-to-child Transmission (PMTCT) program to the Comprehensive Care Program (CCP) where they will continue receiving the necessary care and monitoring for infections which can be well managed if detected in good time.
Governor Anne Waiguru has said that her administration is keen in provision of quality health care services to all the county residents noting that the HIV management interventions were bearing the desired outcomes.
She added that prevention of mother to child transmission program has brought new hope to HIV positive mothers who desire to have children since they don’t have to fear of infecting their babies.
“Such programs have also reduced stigma among HIV positive mothers since they no longer have to face harsh judgment from people who would question why they didn’t breastfeed their babies” said the governor.
She also called upon the society to embrace people living with HIV noting that current intervention measures and treatment have enabled such people to lead normal lives, with some of them getting to zero viral load.
The HEI graduation event was one of the events carried out by the department of health as a curtain raiser for the World Aids Day commemoration.
Other activities include awareness campaigns in various towns such as Sagana and Kerugoya before the main event to be held at Thiba Grounds on Tuesday.