KENYA – Nakuru County Government in Kenya has inaugurated new HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) comprehensive health facilities to boost access to quality HIV prevention and treatment services.
The county has strengthened public health capacity through increasing the number of HIV comprehensive health centers from 60 to 110 in an effort to improve access to appropriate and responsive HIV services.
In addition, Nakuru County partnered with the United States Agency for International Development through a programme dubbed Tujenge Jamii to train 100 facility managers on HIV management and operation of the centers.
USAID Tujenge Jamii is geared towards supporting the Kenyan County governments in achieving the national goals of responding to HIV/AIDS as well as safeguarding the rights and welfare of children and adolescents impacted on by HIV/AIDS.
Additionally, the Ministry of Health has proposed for mandatory HIV testing to be provided to patients during emergency care to improve the yield of testing programmes.
Governor Lee Kinyanjui asserted that Nakuru County had made progress in the fight against HIV/AIDS, noting that the retroviral uptake in the County had increased from 75% to 99% with the number of people diagnosed with HIV in the County currently standing at 58,575.
Despite the progress in HIV treatment, Nakuru County is currently facing a challenge of increased HIV transmission and acquisition rates with the number of infected individuals rising from 900 in 2015 to 1,869 in 2020.
Lee Kinyanjui revealed that the rise in HIV infections in the county could be attributed to the fact that Nakuru was at the center of unique travel destinations besides being an economic hub and world-tourist attraction site.
“The HIV infection trend is related to the increase in teenage pregnancies, the Kenya Demographic and Health Survey reported that one in every five girls aged between 15 and 19 years was either pregnant or already a mother,” Nakuru County Executive Committee Member for Health Dr Zachary Kariuki said.
Dr Zachary Kariuki reaffirmed that the Nakuru County Government is committed to the fight against teenage pregnancies being hampered by cross-generational relationships as well as addressing both sides of the teen pregnancy equation.
“Many teen girls are involved in transactional sexual relationships and unequal gender power relations where they have limited say due to poverty, lack of parental counseling and guidance but the County is committed to reversing the trends,” Kariuki stated.
Dr. Moses Kitheka, USAID’s Tujenge Jamii Chief of Party urged Nakuru County to introduce measures to curb teenage pregnancies which not only targets females but also interventions focused on ensuring young boys and men are held responsible for their sexual behavior.
“The county should initiate more men-led community based programmes to educate adolescent boys on responsible manhood with an aim to encourage them to abstain from sex and use contraception if they are sexually active,” Kitheka further said.
He added that the United States Agency for International Development would continue to work together with the County government of Nakuru in the commitment towards global agreement to end HIV come 2030.
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