November 24, 2017

More than 170, 000 Nairobians living with HIV

By Waweru Titus

A report released on Wednesday (30/11/16) has shown that 171,510 people in Nairobi are living with HIV, with 8,653 aged below 15 years, according to the Nation.

Nairobi city county executive member for health Bernard Muia, said the county has a large number of commercial sex workers, men having sex with men and those injecting drugs.

“In Nairobi, we have 29,000 commercial sex workers, 11,000 men having sex with men and 7,000 injecting drugs, [and] all risk being infected by HIV,” said Dr Muia.

“Over the last decade, there has been a consistent decrease in the prevalence rate from a high of 14 per cent to 8 per cent,” he added.

Dr Muia was speaking during the launch of the Nairobi County HIV and AIDS Strategic Plan.

According to the report, the main modes of HIV transmission in the city are through sex among heterosexual partners, and casual sex among gay men and between sex workers and their clients.

People who inject drugs also contribute a high number of new infections. These four groups account for over 90 per cent of new infections, the report states.

On Tuesday (29/11/16), the World Health Organization (WHO) warned that nearly half of all people with HIV around the globe do not know they are infected.

The agency indicated that 40 per cent of people with the virus that causes AIDS, or more than 14 million people worldwide, are unaware of their status, according to 2015 estimates.

Today, more than 80 per cent of those diagnosed with HIV are receiving ART, but that is still less than half of the 36.7 million people believed to be living with the virus.

“We still have a major treatment gap,” Gottfried Hirnschall, head of WHO’s HIV department, told reporters in Geneva, warning that “many people actually get to treatment late because they don’t know they are HIV positive”.

WHO urged people to embrace self-testing as it could make a dramatic difference.

HIV self-testing allows people, in the privacy of their own homes, to use oral fluid or blood from a finger prick to determine their status in about 20 minutes, while new tests are being developed that work even faster.

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