County marks World Aids Day with calls for sustained efforts in HIV management
Kirinyaga County on Tuesday marked the World Aids Day in a function that brought together the public, officials from both the county and the national government as well as young people who have been involved in community led HIV management initiatives.
The County Executive Committee Member for Health, Gladys Kimingi, who represented Governor Anne Waiguru observed that that Covid 19 has put a lot of pressure to the existing health structures but governments should nonetheless not lose focus on the targets and efforts towards other global health threats even as a lot of attention is directed to the devastating effects of Covid-19. “I appeal to all of us not to let the achievements made towards the control of diseases such as AIDS and TB go to waste due to corona virus. We must, therefore, collectively support all efforts put by the government to ensure that Covid-19 is conquered” she said.
She noted that with an estimated 1.4 million people living with HIV, Kenya is classified as high HIV burden country Kenya thus the need to sustain HIV prevention and management efforts. She said that Kirinyaga County has 14, 635 people living with HIV out of whom 11,255 have already been put under the ARVs treatment program, adding that 90% of those under the ARV treatment have achieved viral suppression which is a great achievement for the county. She however noted that there are still around 3,000 people who are yet to be put under the ARV program since they department of health has not yet traced them, saying that such people could still be spreading the disease unknowingly.
Kimingi reiterated that the department of health will continuously implement measures that ensure improvement of HIV outcomes in the county but stressed that everyone must take responsibility of their health by ensuring that they prevented themselves from contracting HIV as well as going for testing to enable those infected get the relevant treatment. At the same time she applauded the young people who had spearheaded various public awareness initiatives in the county ahead of the event, saying that they were able to mobilize their peers among others to get tested for HIV. She noted that such efforts and many other innovative ways should be employed to reach more people especially men who were reluctant in seeking health services.
On Covid 19 the CEC noted that the disease remains a great health challenge with the county having so far registered 232 out of 1928 samples and losing eight patients to the disease. She said that the county has continuously made efforts towards control of the pandemic and urged all the county residents to ensure that they observed the laid down Covid-19 prevention guidelines.
Speaking at the same forum, 24 years old Kauruga Kamau who confessed to have been born HIV positive urged young people to refrain from behavior that would expose them to HIV. He also urged the society not to stigmatize HIV positive people noting that having the virus is not a death sentence sine if well managed, someone can live a productive life. He said that he faced a lot of stigma while growing up as a HIV positive child but he has now overcome his fears to become a voice and a crusader for stigma free society.
The theme for this year’s World Aids Day is Global Solidarity, Shared responsibility. The theme underscores the significance of communities uniting and taking responsibilities in addressing the growing list of challenges that world is facing today including the Covid pandemic.