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Economy

UN warns Kenya over donors cash cut in war on HIV

1.5 million Kenyans are HIV positive.
About 1.5 million Kenyans are HIV positive. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The United Nations has warned Kenya against continued reliance on foreign donors to fund the fight against HIV/Aids pandemic in the country.

Dr Catherine Sozi, the UNAIDS regional director for East and Southern Africa told the National Assembly’s committee on Health to explore other ways of funding the fight including enhancing national budgetary allocation and encourage private sector to fund programmes to bring down the rising cases of new HIV infection among the youth.

“We know that donor funding is dwindling and it will reach a point when the support will end. It is critical for you as Members of Parliament to start looking at how to fund the HIV/Aids programmes,” Ms Sozi, who was accompanied by Dr Jantine Jacobi, the UNAIDS country director told the committee that was chaired by Ndhiwa MP Martin Owino.

Dr Sozi said the US government last year donated $500 million towards the fight in Kenya and that the level of funding was dwindling.

The UN officials told MPs that UNAIDS recent study shows that new HIV/Aids infections among youth aged 15 to 24 years were on the rise.

She said the young people are most vulnerable because they lack knowledge on HIV, face stigma, poverty and social cultural issues.

About 1.5 million Kenyans are HIV positive, with more than two-thirds on treatment, thanks to donors such as International financing organisation, The Global Fund.

The number of new infections in Kenya has almost halved over the last decade to 80,000 a year, official data show, due to increased testing, treatment and awareness.

Ds Sozi said men were the most vulnerable because they are not going for HIV tests. “But 50 per cent of new infections has been recorded among the youth,” she Sozi said.

“We should be concerned of epidemic in the tertiary institutions. It’s a combination of things including access to correct information. Young kids don’t know what HIV is and how they can prevent it. We have failed our young people,” Dr Sozi said.

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