At least 41,408 people were newly infected with HIV with more than 20,000 deaths reported in 2019 due to HIV-related causes according to data from the World AIDS Day report 2020.
According to the report, Kenya has made significant strides between the year 2012 to 2020 in its fight against HIV and AIDS with reported 57 per cent reduction in HIV/AIDS related deaths while Prevention of Mother to Child Transmissions (PMTCT) coverage of 94 per cent and 47percent decline in HIV incidences.
“Kenya through government intervention and other stakeholders has made great strides towards ending the AIDS epidemic these efforts are yielding fruits with Kenya being the benchmark for other nations seeking to benchmark on matters HIV/AIDS,” the report reads in part.
Speaking during the World AIDS Day, Joshua Gitonga, Head Monitoring and Evaluation at National AIDS Control Council, said that the 2020 report reflected encouraging statistics and the big steps the country has made towards HIV prevention and care.
“I appreciate the tireless efforts made in putting together the 2020 World AIDS Day Report and the HIV response at large. Kenya has seen tremendous progress in the HIV response despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. With a drop in the HIV prevalence rates from 6.3 per cent in 2014 to 4.5 per cent in 2019, our efforts are bearing fruits” he said.
Western counties comprised of Homa Bay, Kisumu, Siaya, Migori and Busia counties are leading in the prevalence rate in the country. It further says that HIV/AIDS is the leading cause of death and morbidity among adolescents and young people in Kenya with at least 2,621 adolescents and young people reported dead from AIDS in Kenya in 2020.
A review of the sources of these infections by the Kenya Modes of Transmission study revealed that 62 per cent of all new infections were among the 15-29-year-olds with 15-24-year-olds contributing 42 per cent.
However, the Study show that more girls than boys use condoms at their first sexual encounter. It states that Chronic complications, such as diabetes, hypertension and other non-communicable diseases put PLHIV at a higher risk than COVID-19.
While Kenya has had a low number of reported COVID-19 cases and low mortality of 1.8 per cent, PLHIV has still been greatly affected by government posed curfews, lockdowns and restricted mobility these factors have undermined their efforts to access health services and strengthen existing testing programs.
Due to the impact of COVID-19 pandemic testing volumes have fallen 32.9 per cent between March and April 2020. Community testing decreased by 71 per cent amidst travel and meeting restrictions.
This is especially dangerous given that 316,828 people don’t know their status yet and almost 317,919 people living with HIV are not yet on treatment. Nelson Otwoma, Executive Director at NEPHAK recognized the impact of COVID-19 on HIV and AIDS response.
He added that the COVID-19 pandemic presents Kenya with a unique opportunity to appreciate what works. “This report brings out the impact of COVID on PLHIV and what works well for the response. The communities remain steadfast in supporting the HIV and AIDS response,” he said.