1 December 2011

Kenya: HIV Infections Drop to 6.3 Percent, Shows Survey

Photo: Tom Otieno
A counsellor takes a blood sample (file photo).

Kenya's HIV prevalence among adults (aged between 15 and 64 years) has dropped to 6.3 per cent, according to the latest Demographic and Health Survey.

This decline is believed to be partially due to an increase in education and awareness and high death rates.

The data, however, indicates that women are disproportionately affected by HIV since prevalence among women was twice as high as that of men at 8 per cent and 4.5 per cent, respectively.

This disparity is even greater in young women aged 15 to 24 years who are four times more likely to become infected with HIV than men of the same age.

Adult HIV prevalence is greater in urban areas (at 8.4 per cent) than rural areas (6.7 per cent).

However, as around 75 per cent of people in Kenya live in rural areas, the total number of people living with HIV is higher in rural areas (1 million adults) than in towns (400,000).

It is estimated that more than 4.4 million Kenyans aged 15 years and over have undergone HIV testing and counselling.

Currently, an estimated 1.5 million people are living with the virus while around 1.2 million children have been orphaned by Aids.

And in 2009, 80,000 people died from Aids-related complications

Many people in Kenya are still not being reached with HIV and prevention and treatment services. Just under half of adults who need treatment and only one in three children needing treatment are receiving it.

According to the survey, 73.5 per cent of women and 58.6 per cent of men have been tested at least once.

Meanwhile, the question on whether drugs for opportunistic illnesses are being sold to HIV patients remains unanswered even as the country marked "World Aids Day Celebrations" on Thursday.

Provincial Director of Health in Coast Dr Maurice Siminyu revealed that the government is carrying out investigations concerning the matter and will bring to book those responsible.

"I have sent a special team to carry out investigations and we will soon establish and will discipline the parties responsible", said Dr Siminyu.

He said that the allegations made by protesters were serious and it was illegal to sell HIV treatment drugs supplied freely by the government.

However, Dr Siminyu said that the government would only charge HIV patients for drugs in cases where they have illnesses that are not related to HIV.

He said the patients should pay for x-ray a because it is not related to HIV.

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