Ban hails Kenya's effort in fight against HIV

Nairobi, Kenya (PANA) - United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon on Thursday lauded gains made by Kenya in the fight against HIV/AIDS, over the last three decades.

Ban said the national prevalence rate had fallen significantly.

Ban, speaking in Nairobi, noted that the rates had declined from about 14 per cent in the mid 1990s to five per cent in 2006, while mortality rates also reduced by 29 per cent between 2002 and 2007, adding that Kenya had laid a good foundation for eliminating transmission of the virus, although there was still room for improvement.

"There was a strong sense of stigma by the people, which was very unfortunate, but they now live as any other person; they have been integrated into the society," he said, noting that issues of discrimination had for a long time undermined the country's fight against the epidemic.

Women Fighting Aids in Kenya Field Coordinator, Rebecca Awiti, however, said the government should upscale its efforts in reducing the prevalence rate of HIV/AIDS among young women.

She explained that the rates among those aged between 15 and 24 years remained high at 55 per cent.

"And if you realise these are women in their adolescence, so basically there has not been much focus on that age group and that's why they are more prevalent to HIV. We therefore need to create youth friendly services that target them," she said.

Awiti also said the government should integrate men in the fight against the pandemic for the country to achieve its goal.

According to a report by the United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, women's vulnerability to HIV is high in the sub-Saharan Africa, with about 76 per cent of all HIV positive women living in the region.

"One of the issues slowing us down is that we have not yet fully involved men in this fight. HIV is seen as more of a women's issue and we need to correct this misconception in order to meet our targets of reducing HIV," she said.

The research also indicated that there was a high HIV prevalence among discordant couples in East and Southern Africa ranging from 36 percent to 85 per cent.

In addition, commercial sex workers continued playing an important role in the spread of the virus.

"An estimated 32 per cent of new infections in Ghana, 14 per cent in Kenya and ten per cent in Uganda are linked to sex work," read the report.

The recommendations in the report will be reviewed by global leaders at this year's High Level Meeting on AIDS, from 8-10 June, in New York.
-0- PANA DJ/BOS 31March2011

31 مارس 2011 19:28:58

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