Agency warns Aids could hit nation harder in future
The National Syndemic Diseases Control Council (NSDCC) has warned that HIV/Aids-related deaths are rising in the country.
Men and boys are the hardest hit, the council chief executive officer Ruth Masha revealed ahead of celebrations to mark the World Aids Day on Thursday.
She said for the first time, in more than a decade, the country has witnessed high number of Aids-related deaths.
“We have really worked well over the years to make sure people are on treatment and that they can live a full life, but last year, we saw an increase in Aids-related deaths especially among men and boys,” Dr Masha said in Machakos on Saturday.
She explained that this means that if Kenyans are not careful, then there is likely to be a resurgence of Aids.
“For this reason, we want people living with HIV to be more healthier and be able to participate in the economic development of the country,” she said during a pre-World Aids Day media sensitisation meeting co-hosted with the Media Council of Kenya.
She called on Kenyans to come out in large numbers during the commemoration of World Aids Day to learn more about HIV.
“In 38 years now we have science, tools that sometimes we didn’t know about for example the Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (Prep) for people who are at risk of HIV that was not there before. We have other emerging scientific ways, so that people can protect themselves,” Masha noted.
Further, she called on Kenyans to learn as much as possible about Aids and the new science focused information.
“The face of Aids is seen through the Aids-related deaths. If you go to Mbagathi hospital, you will understand what this means. So, yes, we are indeed trending on a dangerous path, that an increase in deaths is not a good thing for the response,” she added.
A UNAIDS report released in July this year prominently indicated that, the number of new infections dropped only 3.6 per cent between 2020 and 2021, the smallest annual decline in new HIV infections since 2016.
Just like Samburu county, a non-traditional HIV zone, where the Council revealed that new infections have increased by 50 per cent, the UNAIDS data now shows new HIV infections are rising where they had been falling.
“Climbing infections in these regions are alarming,” the report stated. According to the report, in eastern and southern Africa rapid progress from previous years significantly slowed in 2021.
“The data shows the global Aids response in severe danger. If we are not making rapid progress, then we are losing ground, as the pandemic thrives amidst Covid-19, mass displacement and other crises. Let us remember the millions of preventable deaths we are trying to stop,” said UNAIDS Executive Director Winnie Byanyima.
According to Masha, Kenya is, however, doing well in adherence for People Living with HIV (PLHIV), the challenge though is a population among children, adolescents and men.
“We are doing well as far as women are concerned and also on average, but when you start looking on the data to some populations, you realise there’s a challenge,” she noted.
In a presentation, the council’s head of Monitoring and Evaluation, Joshua Gitonga, said in every one hour, four people are infected with HIV, while 95 are getting infected daily, and 40 per cent are young people.
“Among these numbers, more men seem to be dying,” he said and called for heightened advocacy and communication about Aids.