Being asked by your seniors to write about HIV/AIDs is one of the most difficult tasks in the profession of journalism. Last time I wrote on the subject, storm ensured because some of the statements I had used implied stigmatization. We had to pull down the article.
HIV/AIDs is still a sensitive issue in Kenya. It is sometimes hard to find the right words to describe it without eliciting emotions. Over the years, there have been efforts to fight HIV/AIDs and for sure, the efforts had started bearing fruits.
In the latest report, the Nyanza region of Kenya has been hard hit by HIV infections in the last years placing its Counties at the top of the list of Counties Leading in HIV prevalence.
Though the report released by the National Aids Control Council (NACC) reveals that HIV cases have dropped across all ages with prevalence among adults aged between 15-49 dropping from 0.35 in 2010 to 0.19 in 2017, Nyanza remains predisposed to the infections.
Siaya County in Nyanza leads Kenya with an HIV prevalence of 21 with 19.4 in men and 22.4 in women, followed by Homabay with a prevalence of 20.7 in 19.1 in men and 22.1 in women.
Kisumu and Migori followed closely in Counties with the highest prevalence of HIV of 16.3 with 15 in men and 17.4 in women and 13.3 with 12.2 in men and 14.2 in women respectively while Kisii comes in at 4.4 with four in men and 4.7 in women.
The Western region in Kenya has Busia, Vihiga, and Kakamega listing in the top ten Counties with Busia leading at a prevalence of 7.7 with 5.7 in men and 9.4 in women.
Here are the top 10 counties with the highest HIV prevalence:
As the fight against HIV/AIDs continues, the Government of Kenya seems to be hell-bent in ensuring that we go back where it all started. Currently, about 1.6 million Kenyans are living with HIV/AIDs. This is the number that is known, otherwise, it might be higher.
Why am I blaming the Government of Kenya standing on the way of fighting HIV/AIDs? You may ask that question. Well, here are my reasons.
The United States of America (USA) has been instrumental in the fight against HIV/AIDs in Kenya. For years, the USA government has been allocating hundreds of millions of shillings, through USAID to help contain HIV.
The USA government’s financial year runs from September to October. The budgeting for funding to public health in Kenya by the US government is done through a process called Country Operational Plan (COP).
The COP process mostly begins in the month of March and ends up in June so as to allow its inclusion in the Federal budget which is presented to Congress for approval.
When the process to fund Kenyan projects for the financial year 2020 began, the US gov had set aside 35 million US Dollars to fund procurement of HIV drugs to be given free of charge to roughly 900,000 Kenyans. What US gov does when it comes to procuring public health commodities, it partners with KEMSA, which is a statutory public health commodities procurer.
The USAID, acting as an agent for US gov, received the funds from US Congress and proceeded to procure medicines worth USD35M, and shipped them to KEMSA. The drugs landed in Mombasa sometimes in October 2019.
Do you know what happened when the drugs landed at the Port of Mombasa? Our very own, Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) slapped taxes on the drugs. Talk of a shithole country.
US Embassy in Kenya refused to pay the tax and asked KEMSA to do it. KEMSA refused and KRA stood its ground. The shipper went back to USAid, seeking further instructions on what to do with the drugs. Do you know what happened, the drugs were taken to another country.
Now the country has run out of some typed of ARVs and our people are suffering.