Kenya: Mother-to-Child Infections Cited as an Impediment in HIV Containment War

Nairobi — Mother-to-child HIV transmissions have been named as the main setback to reducing new infection rates in the country.

The latest finding emerged from a National Stakeholders Meeting on HIV/AIDS Response which met to review progress made in the fight against HIV.

Speaking at the meeting on Tuesday, National Aids and STI Control Program (NASCOP) CEO Rose Wafula said that the infection rate through mother-to-child transmission was recorded at 8.3, which was 3 percent over their goal, noting that the prevalence of new infections was among adolescents and young people.

She cited fear and uncertainty over access to services as reasons for the spike with stigma identified as the most prevalent factor.

She said that NASCOP was working with HIV clinics and some of the measures they had in place to reduce the infection rate among women in the reproductive age group and ensure those who are HIV negative maintain their negative status and those who test positive receive timely treatment.

Wafula expressed concerns that infections in this group were on an upward trend.

She noted that in response to the rise, stakeholders had put in place programs designed to address the matter in sub-localities.

In regards to those who were already infected, she said mechanisms are in place to put them on treatment immediately they test positive for the disease as part of control measures.

She also said the agency was working to build up support around vulnerable women, by involving their caregivers and clinic attendants in administration of Anti-Retroviral Therapy and that the children born to them also receive treatment as soon as possible.

She cited stigma as a big issue that discourages mothers who have been added to the system from accessing quality treatment, noting that they are shy to follow through all the steps of treatment because of community attitudes toward them, which weakens the effectiveness of the treatment.

To address the challenge, she said the agency would enhance measures to promote awareness in the society as a step towards eliminating misinformation that is presently the main reason for stigma.

Present at the meeting was Acting Director of Medical Services at the Ministry of Health, Andrew Mulwa among other health sector actors.

Mulwa said the meeting sought to address challenges around the supply of commodities at the county level and ensure the same proceeds uninterrupted during the August 9 General Election.

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