Young people account for big number of new HIV infections

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2021 00:00 |
A health officer conducts HIV test at her work station. Photo/PD/File

Mercy Mwai @wangumarci 

Young people account for close to half of the new cases of HIV and Aids infections in the country, a new report shows.

 Findings of a survey released by the National Aids Control Council (NACC) shows that adolescent and young people, contribute to 42 per cent of the new HIV infections in the country and hence are a priority population.

 It however states that HIV epidemic in Kenya continues to be disproportionately higher among females than males, with the burden of HIV remaining highest for the age category of 15 to 49 years

 The report says the total new infections between the ages of 15 to 29 stands at 21,176 out of which 14,218 are females and 6,958 are males, while the total number of those living with the virus in the same bracket are 304,348 with 206,968 being females and 97,380 being males.

“Adolescents and young people aged 15-29 account for 61.2 per cent of the total adult new HIV infections,” reads the report in part.

Raises concern

 It reveals that Adolescent Girls and Young Women (AGYW) aged 15 to 24 years, contribute to a third  (30 per cent) of the 41,728 new HIV infections in the country.

 The factors contributing to the high increase among the AGYW include inter-generational sex, teenage pregnancies, sexual and other forms of gender-based violence.

 Others are discontinuation of school especially during the transition from primary to secondary school, prevailing gender norms, poor access to comprehensive sexuality education, sexually transmitted infection (STI) and low socio-economic status.  

Infections among boys and young men aged between 15-34 years account for 53 per cent of the 13,320 new infections, the report notes.

 The report states that the peak of new HIV infections is among young men aged 20-34 years.

“Evidence shows that compared to women, awareness of HIV status is low among men. Delay in awareness of status also delays entry into prevention and treatment services.

  The report meanwhile states that Kenya will require Sh 647.7 billion to fully fund the HIV response for the next five years.

 Currently the report states that Kenya has a gap of Sh288.2 billion which need to be resourced to fully fund the response. 

The report raises concern that with large economies facing the pressure to impose lock downs, the impact in terms of both the loss in economies and Covid-19 pandemic, are likely to negatively influence overseas aid, including that for HIV.

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