Kenyans urged to have HIV self-testing
George Kebaso @Morarak
The Ministry of Health is encouraging HIV self-testing to reduce infection among hard to reach populations.
Catherine Ngugi, head of division of National Aids and STIs Control Programme (NASCOP) said the new approach will help the government reach children, youths and other adults not easily available for tests.
“The government is now investing more in innovative testing approaches such as self-testing to help identify infected people and start treatment in good time,” Ngugi said.
Speaking in Nairobi yesterday, Ngugi noted that the new approach is aimed at reducing effects of HIV on the population and achieving a country free of new HIV infections, stigma and AIDS related deaths plan.
Globally, the country has one of the largest HIV epidemics with about 1.5 million people living positively.
According to Kenya HIV estimates for the year 2020, 1.4 million are adults while 106, 807 are children aged between 0 and 14 years.
“Adolescent and young people contribute to about half of new infections occurring annually with most of these infections occurring in young women,” she revealed.
According to Ngugi, HIV data in East Africa shows a huge gender disparity with double the prevalence among women as compared to men at 6.6 and 3.1 percent respectively.
“We must now consolidate our efforts and focus on bridging the gaps, not only in service provision, but also in systems that enable us to deliver more efficiently,” she said.
She also observed that children and the youth are a cause for concern in the fight against HIV because they are disproportionately affected due to unfavourable treatment formulations, which are intolerable to them.
“Some children’s medications are bitter to swallow while some are difficult for caregivers to administer,” he added.
She further noted that to eliminate mother to child transmission, all expectant women are now expected to enrol early into clinics and have their husbands engaged in maternal services.
She said the country risks losing huge gains already made if youths are not meaningfully involved in the war against HIV.
The country moved to full implementation of multi-month dispensing of three months or more of HIV treatment to prevent people from running out of medicines.