SURPASSES TARGETS

Kenya on course to bring HIV under control — Unaids

The country has cut new infections among adults by 20 per cent between 2010 and 2019.

In Summary

• In the last five years, Kenya has reduced Aids deaths by 52 per cent, surpassing the country’s target of 25 per cent by 2020.

• Kenya also has Africa's largest opioid substitution therapy, having put 26 per cent of all people who inject drugs on methadone to wean them out of addiction.

ARV drugs.
ARV drugs.
Image: FILE

Kenya is on course to meet some ambitious United Nations targets to control HIV by 2020. 

The Joint United  Nations Programme on HIV/Aids targets that by 2020, 90 per cent of all people living with HIV would know their HIV status, 90 per cent of those diagnosed HIV would be on ARVs, and 90 per cent of those on ARVs would be virally suppressed.

The strategy is called 90-90-90.

A scorecard released by Unaids shows Kenya has made some of the highest gains in Africa, which, if accelerated, will bring the epidemic under control.

For instance, Kenya cut new infections among adults by 20 per cent between 2010 and 2019. 

Last year, 38,000 adults were infected with HIV but Unaids advises that figure should be less than 12,000 in 2020. 

Kenya has about 1.6 million people living with HIV, from whom 1.2 million are on life-prolonging ARV medication.

Unaids director Winnie Byanyima released the report titled 'Implementation of the HIV Prevention 2020 Road Map' in Nairobi last week during the International Conference on Population and Development. 

In the last five years, Kenya has reduced Aids deaths by 52 per cent, surpassing the country’s target of reducing Aids-related deaths by 25 per cent by 2020.

“We are therefore on track in our contribution towards less than 500,000 new infections globally by 2020,” Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki said during the launch.

The report shows Kenya has Africa's fifth-highest male condom usage, after Zimbabwe, Namibia, Malawi and Lesotho. 

Further, it shows Kenya has surpassed targets on voluntary medical male circumcision. 

It also praises the pre-exposure prophylaxis programme launched in May last year.

"More than 30,000 people were accessing PrEP in Kenya in mid-2019, making it Africa’s largest PrEP programme," the report adds.

Kenya also has Africa's largest opioid substitution therapy, having put 26 per cent of all people who inject drugs on methadone to wean them out of addiction.

The report also shows Kenya doing well to prevent infections among gay people and sex workers.

"Among the front runners, Kenya implements programmes for different key populations at scale—including sex workers, gay men and other men who have sex with men and people who inject drugs—despite the fact that behaviours of these key populations are criminalised," the report says.

Reflecting on Kenya's progress, civil society groups said the country must do more. 

"Yes, progress has been made but more need to be done to ensure that no region and no population is left behind in the acceleration of the delivery of the 90.90.90 targets," said Nelson Otuoma of the Nephak, a lobby for people living with HIV. 

He said school children with HIV still face discrimination. 

"The painful plight of young learners living with HIV in Kenya that we have always reported on confirms that the country is still only doing good and can do better."