Clinton Foundation To Provide $38M to Kenya To Increase Treatment Access Among Children Living With HIV/AIDS
The Clinton Foundation has allocated 2.5 billion Kenyan shillings, or about $38 million, for next year to fund a three-year program that aims to ensure that all HIV-positive children in the country have access to treatment, the East African Standard reports. About 13,000 of the 102,000 children in Kenya living with HIV/AIDS have access to antiretroviral drugs and 60,000 are in need of treatment, James Nyikal, the country's director of medical services, said Monday in Nairobi, Kenya, at the launch of a pediatric HIV/AIDS awareness campaign (Ndegwa, East African Standard, 10/16).
According to new statistics released in August, Kenya's HIV prevalence was 5.1% in 2006, down from 5.9% in 2005 and 6.1% in 2004. 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. The country recorded 55,000 new HIV cases in 2006, compared with 60,000 in 2005 and 85,000 in 2004 (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 8/15). "Although Kenya has made significant progress in increasing access to care and treatment for adults, children have remained underserved despite the burden of HIV among the population," Nyikal said (AFP/Yahoo! News, 10/15). According to Nyikal, 50% of HIV-positive children die because they have no treatment access. He added that the "[t]ime to act is now, to let these children live."
Clinton Foundation Country Director Gerald Macharia said the funds will go toward purchasing antiretrovirals to scale up the number of children with treatment access by 2010. Nyikal welcomed the assistance and said the government already has directed 500 million Kenyan shillings, or about $7.5 million, toward purchasing antiretrovirals this year. In addition, the government has increased its efforts to provide children with drug access, and 10,000 additional children will be enrolled in the country's antiretroviral treatment program next year, according to Nyikal. Seventy million Kenyan shillings, or about $1 million, will be used for the public awareness campaign, the Standard reports.
Nyikal said the campaign to scale up treatment access among children is crucial. A recent government survey showed that 61% of mothers and caregivers were unaware of the availability of HIV testing for children. Nyikal added that 12% of survey participants had taken their children to be tested for HIV. "This public awareness campaign therefore aims to create demand for HIV testing in pregnant women and children," he said. Nyikal also announced that new infant HIV testing equipment had been installed at the Kenya Medical Research Institute laboratory in Nairobi, Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital in Eldoret and the CDC lab in Kisumu (East African Standard, 10/16).