The rate of HIV prevalence in Siaya County has reduced from 24% for the last 5 years to 16% currently.
Reports released during celebrations marking the World AIDS day, held at Siaya KMTC indicated that infection rates dropped over the period due to intensified campaigns
With the theme of this year being to stop teenage pregnancy towards elimination of HIV/AIDS, it was noted that 19% of all pregnancies were adolescents aged between 10-19 while those aged between 15-24 contributed to 41% of new infections every year.
In his speech, the acting health director in Siaya Dr. Felix Tindi said that there is need to do HIV testing to identify all those living with the virus, an activity which he said Siaya County was at 87% coverage.
He said the testing would help the county initiate treatment and suppress the virus.
Speaking on behalf of the Siaya County Commissioner, the deputy County Commissioner Douglas Matugi called on the community to come together to ensure the disease is totally eradicated.
He added that his officers were working tirelessly to ensure that individuals who found responsible for teen pregnancies are dealt in accordance to the law.
As a tool to eliminate the disease, Siaya County, launched a five-year AIDS Implementation Plan for the year 2020/2021-2024/2025.
According to County Health CEC Dismas Wakla the plan is aimed at helping the county to fight the spread of the virus as one of the top priorities.
In the plan, the county highlights its vision as a county free of HIV infections, stigma and AIDS related deaths.
Wakla said the county’s goal is to provide comprehensive HIV prevention, treatment, care and support towards universal health coverage for all people.
He said with the help of various partners, the county is at the forefront to ensure they create awareness to people about the disease and how to prevent it. In addition, the county also provides care and treatment for those infected to ensure they live their lives normally, added Wakla.
The CEC said Siaya is looking forward to achieving various objectives by the end of the 5 years that included reducing new HIV infection s by 75%, reducing AIDS related mortality by 50%, micro-eliminating viral hepatitis and reduce the incidences of sexually transmitted infections, reducing HIV related stigma and discrimination to less than 25% and increasing domestic financing for the HIV response to 50%.
To achieve these objectives, the plan outlines the thematic areas and the proposed interventions. The first focus is to ensure universal access to comprehensive, quality and integrated HIV and STIs prevention services.
This will be used to address the first objective with the main focus being to enhance identification of the infected people and to provide HIV prevention programmes, treatment and support services with the gaps and challenges being low uptake of HIV testing by men, currently at 39% among others.
Wakla said to curb this challenge, the county intended to ensure that the services were friendly so that many men could come out and also consider the best time for them to do so.
Another area will be to re-energize shared fast-track commitment towards achieving the targeted treatment. Wakla said the main challenge was inadequate screening and high cost of tests to diagnose non communicable diseases. He said the county intends to strengthen screening and make the requirements available.
For the county to achieve zero HIV new infections, the plan highlights the resources it requires of approximately Sh10.01 million.
According to Wakla, the amount was arrived at after costing the amount which would be required to carry out the various activities, programmes and the equipment needed.
The plan marks a great milestone for Siaya county as it points out the stride it intends to make.