Mother-to-child HIV infection in Kenya reduces by 58.67%

People sit under a banner during at Nyayo Stadium, Nairobi, on December 1, 2016, during a function to mark World Aids Day /MONICAH MWANGI
People sit under a banner during at Nyayo Stadium, Nairobi, on December 1, 2016, during a function to mark World Aids Day /MONICAH MWANGI

Only about 6,200 children were born

with HIV in Kenya last year, down

from a high of 15,000 in 2012.

This is a reduction of 58.67 per cent.

The new data means the country

is on course to eliminate mother-to child

transmission of HIV, which now

stands at 6.2 per cent.

Mother-to-child transmission accounts

for more than 90 per cent of

new HIV infections among children,

but is entirely preventable if the

HIV-positive mothers adhere to antiretroviral


“If we sustain the momentum then

we can completely eliminate transmission

to babies by 2021,” said Dr

Caroline Olwande, a pharmacist with

the National Aids and STI Control Programme.

Nascop said currently only 85 per

cent of mothers with HIV have been

placed on ARVs to prevent the virus

passing on to their babies.

Olwande said Kenya can achieve

zero transmission if all positive mothers

are placed on ARVs during and after


However, only eight in every 10

mothers attend the antenatal clinics,

which means the country would need

a complete coverage of all hospitals to

eliminate HIV in babies.

Nascop has now developed a new

strategy, which places emphasis on


“We are concerned about the increase

of new infections among girls

and young women, many of whom

unknowingly pass on the virus to their

children during pregnancy, delivery

or breastfeeding,” director of medical

services Dr Jackson Kioko said.

The data also showed a spike in infections

during the nurses’ strike last

year and in 2015.

Leading pediatrician Prof Ruth

Nduati said this year will also see a

spike because of the ongoing nurses’


“The entire mother and child

healthcare in hospitals is run by nurses,

but now women go to hospitals

and they cannot access HIV drugs,”

she said.

First Lady Margaret Kenyatta will

launch Nascop’s new strategy today in


She will be hosting a summit,

where leaders will commit to prioritise

resources for the elimination of

mother-to-child transmission within

the 2012-2016 framework.

The participants will be questioning

why Kenya continues to experience

high maternal mortality from

preventable causes and increasing

HIV-Aids prevalence among adolescents,

despite previous high-level

commitments to tame the challenges.

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