Kenya records the highest HIV incidence compared to other countries in East Africa

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HIV/AIDS remains to be one of the greatest present scourges facing mankind globally. The trends in HIV incidence and prevalence are determined by the interplay between several factors such as the effects of gender, age-groups, risk groups, ART, and PMTCT among others.

In Kenya, many preventive measures based on these factors have been put in place to address the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

Despite these measures, the HIV incidence and prevalence is still high compared to rates in the developed countries. There is therefore a need for precise information on the nature of trends given the past and present preventive measures so as to inform better planning and accurate evaluation of the impact of these preventive interventions and the general progress in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

A study from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) conducted at the University of Washington, indicates that 48,503 Kenyans died of Aids in 2017.

Kenya’s 5.6 per cent HIV prevalence is the highest in the East African Community, according to the report.

According to KNASP report,  Kenya is implementing a successful multi-sectoral response to HIV/AIDS. Overall prevalence rates are falling, voluntary counselling and testing services are increasingly widely available, and a growing proportion of Kenyans are aware of their HIV status. The scale up of antiretroviral therapy (ART) is on-course.

There is an increasing understanding and willingness to cooperate among stakeholders across Government, civil society, the private sector and development partners. But progress cannot be taken for granted; enormous challenges remain.

The rate of new infections remains unacceptably high, and there are major differences in the risk of infection faced by different population groups. Particularly vulnerable to infection are young girls; individuals in HIV discordant relationships; commercial sex workers (CSW) and their clients; migrant workers; and injecting drug users (IDUs). Although access to ART is increasing, availability of affordable treatment still falls far short of the need. With rising cumulative deaths from AIDS, vulnerability to the impact of HIV/AIDS, particularly among orphans, vulnerable children, widows and the elderly is becoming increasingly apparent, exacerbated by high general poverty levels.

De­spite the rapid scale up of ART since 2000, HIV/Aids is still the most common cause of death in sub-Saharan Africa, according to data from the Global Burden of Disease.

Seven guiding principles for effective behavior change interventions targeted at HIV/AIDS prevention have evolved. These principles, which are consistent with the behavior science literature and with experience in program development in Africa (Family Health International/AIDSCAP Project, 1995), are as follows:

• Targeting—Interventions should focus on well-characterized, specific target audiences.
• Skills development—Interventions should include components that encourage individual acquisition of skills and tools that will help to prevent the transmission of HIV.
• Support—A supportive social environment needs to be created to foster HIV-prevention interventions and reinforce individual behavior-change efforts.
• Maintenance—HIV-prevention interventions need to include strategies that will foster the maintenance of behavior change over time.
• Collaboration—Every effort should be made in the development and delivery of prevention interventions to work collaboratively with other sectors, ministries, and communities so that the potential for synergistic program effects is enhanced.
• Monitoring and evaluation—Programs must be monitored and evaluated in order to determine intervention implementation integrity, effectiveness, and cost-effectiveness.
• Sustainability—Because resources are limited and donor support is intermittent, HIV-prevention programs should be designed for sustainability by building capacity to pursue alternative resources.

( By maryan Hajir, Asal Media correspondent)

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