Kenya off track in quest to curb mother-to-child HIV transmission

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Kenya’s quest to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV, syphilis, and hepatitis is off track, the country’s Ministry of Health said in a report released Tuesday.

The ministry attributed the derailment to challenges arising from COVID-19 disruption and the decline of donor aid.

“The challenges that have undermined HIV response progress include the COVID-19 pandemic and the emerging concern around sustainability as Kenya has over the years relied on bilateral and multilateral donations to finance over 60 percent of the annual budgets required for essential HIV health products,” the ministry said in a sector report for the financial year 2023/2024.

Kenya targeted to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV and Syphilis to below 5 percent by 2021, according to the ministry. Rates, however, have remained alarmingly high, especially in arid and semi-arid areas where the number stands at 28.5 percent.

The ministry noted that over the years, there has been a decline in proportionate donor funding and a stagnation in government contribution toward procurement of HIV commodities despite the increase in the number of citizens on antiretrovirals. It said Kenya has not met the 95-95-95 global targets, and progress in attainment is the lowest among children, adolescents, and young people nationally.

The Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS aims for HIV testing, treatment, and viral suppression rates to be 95 percent by 2025.

More than 50 percent of all new HIV infections in Kenya occur among young people aged between 15 and 29, and the number of persons living with HIV stands at 1.4 million, with about 5 percent of these being children aged 0-14 years, according to the ministry. Enditem

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