Kenya: African countries making progress in fighting HIV/AIDS

Nairobi, Kenya (PANA) – With less than six months to the deadline set to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2015, African countries have made appreciable progress in fighting the scourge of HIV/AIDS, according to a medical expert, Dr. Lawrence  Oteba.

“If you look at the 90s and early 2000, the picture was very grim because the deaths from HIV were high, the number of new infections at that time was very high,” the Programme Adviser on HIV/AIDS with the Nairobi-based International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), told PANA in an exclusive interview.

“Out of the 36 million people globally living with HIV then, 70% were in Africa. If you were diagnosed with HIV in the 90s, it was a death sentence, because anti-retroviral drugs were not widely available. Even if they were available, they were very expensive, so it was difficult, even to access laboratory back-up testing, like CD4 counts,” he noted.

Dr Oteba attributed the success recorded to key investments in the treatment, prevention and support for people living with the disease by different countries and their global partners.

The UNAIDS Report of 2013, shows that death from AIDS related diseases in Africa has drastically reduced. Reduction of over 40% from the 2012 has been recorded, even though the prevalence rate is still high.

People who have HIV can now live longer due to new drugs, unlike in the past, when an infection of HIV was seen as a death sentence.  

HIV is now seen as a chronic illness, like diabetes and hypertension, and it is no longer the killer disease that it was in the 90s.

However, issues of stigma, discrimination and criminalization as well as new legislation are threatening to reverse the success recorded.

Dr Oteba urged African countries not to be complacent with the present situation, but must sustain the tempo in the fight against HIV, by allocating more resources to it.
-0- PANA SB/MA 27Nov2014

27 Novembro 2014 22:17:43

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