Most people aware of Aids status on life-saving cure
Irene Githinji and George Kebaso
More than 96 per cent of Kenyans who tested HIV positive are on life saving treatment, it was revealed yesterday.
The government said Kenya is well on course to achieve epidemic control.
Health Chief Administrative Secretary Dr Rashid Aman said more than 90 per cent of those on treatment have controlled HIV thus pose a very low risk of spreading the virus.
“This is further evidenced by the decrease of new HIV infections to less than 36,000 in 2018, a reduction from 106,000 we recorded in 2012. So we have made tremendous progress between that period of time,” said Aman.
Currently, Aman said more than 1.1 million are benefitting from Anti-Retroviral Treatment (ART), which is an achievement and indication of resilience of different HIV programmes.
He said the progress is attributed to several factors including partnerships with different agencies and strong political commitment.
Aman said Covid-19 poses a challenge to the uptake of HIV testing services due to low outpatient hospital visits during this period.
He said the uptake of HIV testing services has declined over the months between January last year and June this year, with the lowest uptake noted in March and April where testing volumes reduced by 33 per cent.
Aman also said there has been an upward trend in the number of clients newly enrolled to ART between January 2018 and July last year with a subsequent decline up to June this year.
The adult cascades indicates that of the 83 per cent positive identified, 87 per cent are enrolled in care and 93 per cent have achieved viral load suppression.
For pediatric cascade, 63 per cent of the positive have been identified but 72 per cent are enrolled in care and 83 per cent have achieved viral load suppression.
“In terms of age-sex distribution, no Covid-19 effects were noted as the proportion of males and females across the various age groups remained the same when March and June this year data was compared,” noted Aman.
He assured that the country has not face any problem with ARVs supply and that the country is well on course in transitioning into new regimens from the older ones.
The Ministry said there was a challenge in accessing the ARVs especially when restrictive measures were imposed in March due to Covid-19 but that has since improved.
“When you impose restrictions of movement or a lock down access to services was a challenge especially in March and April and that is why the numbers dipped and also because of economic reasons hence lack of money to visit the health facilities,” said Dr Patrick Amoth, the Health Acting Director General.
He also said repurposing of staff to focus on Covid-19 also posed a challenge to accessing ARVs as well as fear to contract diseases in the health facilities.
“We developed a protocol on continuity of essential services and the numbers have gone up.
This was not only the case for HIV but also in other services like malaria, tuberculosis, maternal and non communicable diseases but now we are on the right track to be able to catch up.
We have not had a problem in the supply chain with regards to availability of ARVs,” assured Amoth.
The Ministry made the remarks as it also emerged that HIV infections in the country could be silently but steadily rising as the focus remains on Coronavirus pandemic.