Tuesday, June 25, 2013

New HIV infections drop by 40pc- NASCOP

National Aids and Sexually Transmitted Infection Control Programme (NASCOP) director Dr William Maina addresses journalists at Panafric Hotel, Nairobi June 25, 2013. He said new cases of HIV infections in the country have reduced by 40 per cent in the last five years. PHOEBE OKALL

National Aids and Sexually Transmitted Infection Control Programme (NASCOP) director Dr William Maina addresses journalists at Panafric Hotel, Nairobi June 25, 2013. He said new cases of HIV infections in the country have reduced by 40 per cent in the last five years. PHOEBE OKALL  

By LUCAS BARASA [email protected]

New cases of HIV infections in the country have reduced by 40 per cent in the last five years, the National Aids and Sexually Transmitted Infection Control Programme (NASCOP) has said.

"The country has performed well in the prevention of HIV and Aids," said Dr William Maina, the director of NASCOP.

Speaking to journalists after officially opening a conference to promote the integration of health services at Panafric Hotel in Nairobi Tuesday, Dr Maina said the decrease in infection follows the scaling up of prevention programmes and awareness.

"We have been telling people to know their status,” Dr Maina said.

In 2007, Dr Maina said only 36 per cent of persons living with HIV and Aids knew their status but now 70 per cent were aware.

An estimated 6.3 per cent of Kenyans are living with HIV and Aids and Dr Maina said 610,000 of those were on anti-retroviral drugs.

Dr Maina said 92 per cent of mothers who visit the government anti-natal clinics were provided with integrated services to prevent mother-to-child transmission.

Some 1,300 babies infected annually

Dr Maina said out of the 1.2 million pregnancies annually, 87,000 of the mothers are HIV and Aids positive.

He said 1,300 babies are infected annually either during pregnancy or through breastfeeding.

“We are now focusing on prevention of mother-to-child transmission to keep the mother alive so that she can take care of the baby. We usually follow the mothers found to be HIV positive and keep them on treatment,” Dr Maina said.

Dr Maina said ARVs had also gone along way in reducing infections as the treatment reduces transmission by more than 90 per cent.

He said male circumcision also reduces HIV and Aids infection by about 60 per cent.

Dr Maina said 44 per cent of transmissions occur among steady partners since they don't not use a condom based on trust.

Demand safe sex

Female sex workers, men who have sex with other men and fishermen comprise 33.3 per cent of HIV and Aids transmission "though they are not many as they are about 170,000 people".

“They contribute more to the 91,000 new infections annually. We have developed education packages for them, educated them to know their status and demand for safe sex .

"We urge them to use a condom if they are to continue having sex to protect themselves and their clients. If possible, we link them to care and treatment as treatment reduces amount of virus transmission. ARVs reduce transmission and keep people healthy,” Dr Maina said.

Dr Maina said the prevalence rate among women was nearly double that of men.

“Due to social status of women, most are not empowered to bargain for sex and demand the use of a condom. Girls are also exposed to sex earlier than boys,” Dr Maina said.

Dr Maina said the government is integrating services in hospitals to cut on costs and be youth-friendly.

“We want to reduce the number of stations one goes through to get healthcare from getting an outpatient card, going to a clinician, laboratory, back to clinician and then to pharmacy. We want to bring the services together to maximise on human resource, prevent duplication and be convenient to clients,” Dr Maina said.

Dr Maina was accompanied by Lucy Stackpool-Moore, Lucien Kouakou and Lawrence Oteba of International Planned Parenthood Federation, Ian Askew, Dr Timothy Abuya of Population Council, Edward Marienga of Family Health Options Kenya and Richard Mutemwa of London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

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