Kenya’s success in reducing the rates of Aids-related deaths and HIV infections results from a national policy that stands as a global trendsetter, the country’s United Nations envoy declared on Monday.
Kenya’s “inventive and bold location-based approach has now become the global standard for HIV programming and resource allocation”, Ambassador Lazarus Ombai Amayo said at a UN General Assembly debate on the Aids epidemic.
The annual rate of new HIV infections has been cut by 51 per cent —from 100,000 to 50,000 Kenyans — since adoption in 2014 of a revised “roadmap” pointing the way to ending Aids, Ambassador Amayo noted.
Kenya is on track to hit the UN’s “90-90-90 targets” by next year, he pointed out.
Those numbers refer to diagnosing 90 per cent of all HIV-positive persons, delivering Aids treatment to 90 per cent of those diagnosed with the disease, and suppressing the virus in 90 per cent of people receiving anti-Aids medication.
Ambassador Amayo also called the UN’s attention to the country’s “one-of-a-kind” HIV Tribunal.
He said this HIV-focused statutory body, which was established in 2006, “ensures that people living with the virus do not face stigma or discrimination based on their status.”
Ambassador Amayo also spoke on Monday on behalf of the African group of UN member-states.
In that capacity, he warned that the sub-Saharan Africa’s “youth bulge” presents special challenges for HIV prevention efforts.
The Kenyan envoy said many young Africans are not being informed about the risks of HIV transmission
This shortfall has an especially harmful impact on young African women and girls who continue to suffer high rates of HIV infection, Ambassador Amayo told the world body.
The envoy also spotlighted the negative effect of “user fees” that some countries impose for diagnostic tests and consultations.
Poor people, already at the highest risk of contracting Aids, are further endangered by these unaffordable charges, Ambassador Amayo said.
Kenya is not alone in the sub-Saharan region in achieving progress against the Aids epidemic.
A report by the UN secretary-general, that accompanied Monday’s debate, noted that Aids-related mortality has fallen by 53 per cent in East and Southern Africa since 2008.
“An epidemic that once killed more than a million people in the region per year now claims fewer than 400,000 lives per year,” said the report from Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
It further pointed out that four million voluntary male circumcisions were performed in 2017 in the 14 countries in East and Southern Africa with the highest degrees of HIV prevalence.
Scientific assessments have established that circumcised men have a greatly reduced risk of becoming infected with the Aids virus.