Kenya’s HIV Prevalence Decreases, National AIDS Control Council Says
Alloys Orago, director of Kenya's National AIDS Control Council, on Monday at a press conference in Nairobi, Kenya, released new statistics that show a significant decline in HIV prevalence and new HIV cases, the East African Standard reports. Orago said that Kenya is one of three African nations that recently has made significant progress in HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment programs.
According to the new statistics, Kenya's HIV prevalence was 5.1% in 2006, down from 5.9% in 2005 and 6.1% in 2004 (Ojanji, East African Standard, 8/14). According to Kenya's The Nation, an estimated one million people are HIV-positive in the country, 934,000 of whom are ages 15 to 49 and 102,000 of whom are younger than age 14. HIV prevalence among men was 3.5% in 2006, compared with 6.7% among women (Wachira, The Nation, 8/14). The country recorded 55,000 new HIV cases in 2006, compared with 60,000 in 2005 and 85,000 in 2004.
HIV prevalence in urban areas is about 8.3%, compared with 4% in rural areas. In addition, deaths from AIDS-related causes decreased from 120,000 in 2003 to 85,000 in 2006. Orago attributed the decrease in AIDS-related deaths to increased access to antiretroviral drugs, adding that antiretrovirals have prevented about 57,000 deaths from AIDS-related illnesses since 2001 (East African Standard, 8/14). The Kenyan government provides access to no-cost antiretrovirals to HIV-positive people, The Nation reports (The Nation, 8/14).
NACC Chair Miriam Were said a well-coordinated HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment program that brought together several groups has helped to decrease HIV prevalence in the country. In addition, Were said that behavioral changes among young people and adults -- such as sexual abstinence, delaying sexual activity and using condoms -- also have helped Kenya's fight against HIV/AIDS.
According to Orago, although Kenya has made progress in fighting HIV/AIDS, there still are many challenges. "These figures illustrate the magnitude of the inherent task in providing prevention, treatment, care and support services to ensure universal access," Orago said (East African Standard, 8/14). Orago added that the country still should work to reduce deaths from AIDS-related illnesses because at least 233 people continue to die daily from such causes (The Nation, 8/14).
According to the Standard, more than 1.5 million pregnant women will need HIV testing and counseling annually. Additional health workers and antiretrovirals for 68,000 women will be needed annually to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmissions, Orago said (East African Standard, 8/14). In addition, there are 2.4 million AIDS orphans in the country, The Nation reports (The Nation, 8/14).
NACC Obtains Oral HIV Tests To Sell to Public
In related news, NACC on Monday announced that it has obtained Bethlehem, Pa.-based OraSure Technologies' OraQuick Advance Rapid HIV 1/2 Antibody Test and Calypte Biomedical's Calypte Aware Rapid Test to be sold to the public, Business Daily reports (Albert, Business Day, 8/14). The OraQuick test requires users to swab their gums and then place the swab in a holder. After 20 minutes, one line appears on the strip if the test result is negative and the person is HIV-negative and two appear if the result is positive and the person is HIV-positive. Positive results require a follow-up test with a medical professional for confirmation (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 4/5).
The tests are expected to be available by Dec. 1 to mark World AIDS Day, Orago said. The tests will be sold for about 195 shillings, or $3, to 325 shillings, or $5, Business Daily reports. About 10,000 people participated in a pilot phase of the project, which requires final approval from Kenya's Parliament, according to Orago. He added that the tests will be sold only to people who have received HIV counseling (Business Day, 8/14).