Kenya largest recipient of US Aids funding

US President Donald Trump. PHOTO | SCOTT OLSON | AFP
US President Donald Trump. PHOTO | SCOTT OLSON | AFP  

High new HIV infections have made Kenya the largest recipient of the US government Aids budget amid a push by President Donald Trump’s administration to cut funding.

The US Embassy in Nairobi said Kenya will receive $500 million of the President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief or PEPFAR, which supports HIV/Aids treatment, testing and counselling for millions of people worldwide.

The assistance will come from the roughly $6 billion (Sh618 billion) that the US Senate Appropriations Committee voted last week for HIV/Aids projects in more than 50 countries.

President Donald Trump’s administration requested the programme be cut by $1 billion earlier this year, which could have seen assistance to Kenya reduced by nearly 10 per cent.

“In FY18, the PEPFAR budget for Kenya is $500 million (Sh51.5 billion). Kenya is currently the largest funded PEPFAR program in the world and also gets the largest US funding on health,” said the US Embassy in an e-mail response.

Kenya has been cited as one of the countries with relatively high HIV new infections, especially among adolescents and young people aged between the ages of 15 and 24 years.

The National Aids Control Council (NACC) says Kenya had 72,000 new HIV infections among adults in 2015, down from 88,000 recorded in 2013.

“As we make progress, the numbers are still unsustainably high,” said Nduku Kilonzo, the director of NACC, adding that 46 per cent of the new infections were among adolescents and young people.

Kenya is also one of the countries with the lowest antiretroviral coverage, at 39 per cent, a global study by Lancet says, and below the regional average that stands at 43 per cent.

To maximise its impact, PEPFAR will focus much of its efforts on 13 countries that are nearing epidemic control - the point where there are more deaths each year from Aids than there are new HIV infections.

Those countries include Kenya, Zambia, United Republic of Tanzania, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Lesotho, Ivory Coast, Botswana, Namibia, Swaziland, Haiti and Rwanda.