Society / Health & Science
Tuesday, 30 Aug 2016 20:43 EATnewsdesk@kenyafreepress.com
A new programme to address the mother-to-child transmission of HIV/Aids has been launched in Siaya County. Siaya has more than three times the national average of Aids prevalence, second only to Homa Bay County.
Among the indicators of the high Aids rate in Siaya is that out of 14,000 women on antenatal care, 29 percent are HIV-positive adolescents aged between 14-21. Despite the increased effectiveness of HIV intervention measures, many people in the region still feel stigmatized by the disease, hence their low absorption of medical care.
Speaking during the launch of 'Sauti Skika', a national initiative for adolescents and young people, in Siaya County, the coordinator of Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) and Home Based Care, Carolyne Ayieko, said also that low HIV testing among youths is aiding the spread of the disease.
“Incorporating HIV testing activities into school activities like having a mobile unit available for HIV testing outside the school on a regular basis will normalize the activity and hopefully remove some of the stigma that remains around seeking a test," she said.
She also suggested that school teachers might need to be educated on HIV prevention and management. "Even though we are making positive strides in reducing infections in the county, a lot of new infections still come from those aged 14-24 compared to older people," she said.
According to the Ministry of Health statistics, Bondo and Rarieda sub-counties have the highest HIV/Aids prevalence rates despite the existence of a number of intervention programs aimed at fighting the scourge in the region.
The new report shows that although HIV awareness in the region is at 100 percent, majority of the sexually active adults have not embraced behaviors change leading to new cases of infection.
The medical officer of health in Bondo Dr Charles Mbeya says HIV prevalence in Siaya remains high especially along the beaches in Rarieda and Bondo sub counties. "We are currently having more than 780 sex workers operating in Bondo town alone and a further 175 men who have been found to be engaging in sexual intercourse with fellow men exposing the region to HIV infections,” he said.
He challenged education stakeholders in the region to empower school going children especially orphans and adolescent girls living along the beaches with HIV/Aids knowledge to enable them embrace abstinence and behavior change.