We recently marked the world AIDS day and as of this year, 1.6 Million Kenyans are living with HIV .This is according to UNAIDS data of 2017.
The data further reveals that Kenya is one of the most affected countries in the world by HIV,with roughly 36,000 people dying from AIDS related infections. However this is a decrease compared from the year 2010 where a total 51,00 died from the same.
Infection Rate factors
From the study there are several factors and trends noted that result to the current index in terms of the virus spread they include
geographical area – 65% of all new infections occurring in nine out of the country’s 47 counties – mainly on the west coast of Kenya.
Men who have sex with men (MSM)
HIV prevalence among men who have sex with men in Kenya is almost three times that among the general population. The most recent statistics, from 2010, estimate HIV prevalence among men who have sex with men at 18.2%.
Condom use among men who have sex with men is fairly low but has been rising. In 2013, an estimated 69% of men who have sex with men reported using a condom the last time they had anal sex, up from 55% in 2011.
People who inject drugs (PWID)
In 2011, an estimated 18.3% of people who inject drugs (sometimes referred to as PWID) in Kenya were living with HIV.
The majority of people who inject drugs are concentrated in specific geographical areas such as Nairobi and Mombasa. Low condom use and unsafe injecting practices exacerbate transmission.
Sex workers have the highest reported HIV prevalence of any group in Kenya. In 2011, an estimated 29.3% of female sex workers were living with HIV.
By comparison, 2011 findings from the Sex Workers Outreach Project showed an HIV prevalence of 30% among female sex workers and 40% among male sex workers.
This is echoed in a 2015 study of female sex workers in Nairobi, which found around one-third to be living with HIV.
However, female sex workers are reportedly better at protecting themselves from HIV transmission compared to other groups who are vulnerable to HIV such as men who have sex with men.
For example, the 2015 Nairobi study (mentioned above) found 86.9% reported using a condom with their last client and almost two-thirds (62.6%) always using a condom with clients. Testing rates were also high with 86.6% having ever tested for HIV and 63.1% having tested for HIV in the past 12 months.
Women and HIV in Kenya
Although HIV prevalence among the general population has fallen in Kenya, women continue to be disproportionately affected by the epidemic. In 2014, 7.6% of women were living with HIV compared with 5.6% of men.
Young women (aged 15-24) account for up to 21% of all new HIV infections with a prevalence of between 4 and 6 times higher than males of the same age.
This is found across all groups and across all geographic areas, from young female sex workers and young women who inject drugs to young women in discordant couples and young women in and out of school.
In addition, young Kenyan women are more than three times more likely to be exposed to sexual violence than young Kenyan men. About 33% of girls in Kenya have been raped by the time they reach the age of 18, with 22% of girls aged 15-19 reporting their first sexual intercourse to have been forced.
In recent years, Kenya has made huge strides in tackling its HIV epidemic and has been pioneering in the provision of HIV prevention – particularly the implementation of VMMC.
However, current efforts are not reaching all of those who need these services. As a result, concentrated epidemics are emerging among vulnerable groups.
In 2014, the Ministry of Health published the Kenya HIV Prevention Revolution Road Map. This outlines a new approach to drastically reduce new HIV infections that is “evidence-informed, rights-based and gender sensitive”. Its goal is to bring HIV infections to “near zero” by 2030.
The roadmap explicitly recognises what it describes as the “disparities” of the HIV epidemic, and commits to combination interventions, targeted towards the different needs of key populations and geographical locations.
Progress on the roadmap is yet to be reported. However, if implemented successfully, the government projects it will avert 1,149,000 new HIV infections and 761,000 AIDS related deaths by 2030 and save the country $US 19.9 billion.
Live positively !!!!
By Victor Von Njagi