Statistics from the National AIDS and STI Control Program (NASCOP) have shown that HIV infections in the country currently stand at 1.5 million, with more than 41, 000 registered in 2019 alone.
According to the NASCOP, the distribution of prevalence by gender showed that of the 1.5 million infections, 942,653 were women while only 565,752 were males, adding that men normally lack the confidence to test.
According to experts, the numbers may be worse in 2021 following the COVID-19 pandemic that has disrupted testing by diverting the attention of the MOH and the government from other killer diseases to the COVID_19 pandemic alone.
The HIV and AIDS numbers could be higher in 2021 since many Kenyans are yet to start testing again to know their status owing to the stigma attached to the virus, according to researchers
The latest records show that 10 counties that had initially seen an improvement were now on a steady rise. The counties of Homa Bay, Siaya, Kisumu, Migori, Kiambu, Kajiado, Mombasa, Kisii, Nairobi, Nakuru, Uasin Gishu, and Kakamega registering an increase of 1000 infections in 2019.
The report also indicated that there is an increase in the HIV and AIDS transmission from mother to child as HIV-positive mothers who lacked knowledge on the prevention measures often infected their babies during breast-feeding.
Figures from the report showed that 21 percent of babies turned positive between the ages of 18 to 24 months while 17 percent between 24-36 months.
The NASCOP warned that the COVID-19 has since shifted the attention and resources of the government towards fighting the global pandemic, leaving HIV and other killer diseases unattended.
Experts warned that HIV and AIDS appear to have taken the back seat, but the report suggests that the AIDS virus is still very much alive and well in Kenya since the early 80s when it was first discovered in the country.
NASCOP and the National AIDS Control Council (NACC) however continue to sensitize the public on prevention measures, a reminder that the other virus HIV is still a real and present danger, even in the face of COVID-19.
Meanwhile, in October, experts proposed COVID-19 testing and contact tracing as critical components to provide a unique opportunity to conduct widespread HIV testing among other health-promotion activities.
HIV researchers called the strategy ‘assisted partner notification service’, but the end-game is similar – to prevent more people from getting sick with the same disease
The strategy involves identifying, locating, and informing someone that a partner they have had sex or used drugs with has been diagnosed with HIV. The contact is then encouraged to also test for HIV as early as possible.