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Kenya decries declining HIV donor funding

18 June 2014, 19:40

Nairobi - A senior health official on Wednesday expressed concerns over the declining HIV funding by international donors, saying this is not the time to scale down funding to combat the virus.

Health Cabinet Secretary James Machariaon made the remarks while addressing a HIV forum in the country's capital of Nairobi.

"Kenya has just committed two million U.S. dollars as our contribution to the Global Fund for the fight against HIV, TB and malaria for the period 2014-2016," Macharia said during the opening ceremony of the sixth International Conference on Peer Educators, HIV/Aids.

The three-day conference brought over 600 participants from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ghana, Zambia and South Africa to review new research in combating HIV.

"The successful implementation of prioritized programs has seen the country achieve a lot in the prevention and control of HIV," he said.

The country's annual incidence of HIV infection has dropped from 166,000 in 2007 to about 100,000 last year while the national prevalence rate has dropped from 13.9 percent in 2000 to 5.6 percent in 2013.

Macharia noted that Kenya introduced Anti Retroviral (ARV) treatment in Kenya in 2003. "We have nearly 650,000 HIV patients on regular medication, which constitute 83 percent of all eligible clients," he said.

Nearly 90 percent of all HIV positive pregnant women have been provided with prophylactic AR treatment to prevent Mother to Child Transmission of HIV.

As a result of the ARV program, 270,000 deaths have been averted whereas 200,000 new HIV infections have been prevented.

Kenya declared HIV a national disaster in 1999 and the National Aids Control Council (NACC) has been leading the multi-sectoral response.

NACC Deputy Director John Kamigwi said that Kenya has also registered successes in scaling up male circumcision.

"Unfortunately, a third of new HIV infections still occur among the young people below 24 years of age," the NACC official said.

"Although we know that secondary education has a range of health benefits, too few girls achieve that level of education," he said.

NACC Director Dr Nduku Kilonzo said that the government is putting in place appropriate measures to ensure sustainability of HIV prevention programs. Kenya has already operationalized the AIDS Tribunal to deal with violations of rights of persons living with HIV.

U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) Deputy Coordinator Hanna Dangachew said the U.S. has spent over 2 billion dollars in Kenya over the past five years in efforts to combat HIV. "These efforts have been aligned with Kenya's efforts to eliminate the disease," she said.

"We have less than two years to achieve the Millennium Development Goals on HIV, but gloom has given way to hope," the deputy director said.

- Xinhua


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