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48 young people are infected with HIV everyday—NACC



 About 300,000 young people in Kenya below 24 years are HIV positive. (Courtesy)

MOMBASA—The National Aids Control Council (NACC) on Wednesday has cautioned on the increasing number of young people living with HIV in Kenya.

Addressing primary school heads during their 14th Kenya Primary Schools Heads Association meeting in Mombasa, NACC Director Dr Nduku Kilonzo, noted that about 300,000 young people aged between 0-24 years are HIV positive.

With 184,718 being those aged between 10-24 and 100,000 are children below 14 years.

“By the end of this day, we shall have 48 young people who would have been infected with HIV. This is worrying,” Ms Kilonzo said.

“Last year, Kenya recorded 18,000 HIV new infections among people in the adolescent age bracket,” she added.

According to NACC data, about 20 per cent of the Kenyan young people engage in sexual activities before the age of 15 due to influence from peers.

The Director stated lack of information on HIV/AIDS, sexual violence on young people, influence by peers and high levels of stigma as the major causes of increased HIV cases.

She urged parents and teachers to engage children in sex education as a majority of young people in Kenya get information about sex on the internet.

“As parents and teachers, we are losing the back to the Internet. What young people are taught by internet is very misleading,”  she stated.

Kilonzo also showed concern over the large number of teenagers who are not aware of their status. The number of young boys who remain untested is slightly higher compared to the girls.

“About 46 per cent of young women aged between 15-19 have never tested for HIV and 58 per cent of young men within the same age bracket have also never gone for HIV testing,” she noted.

Kenya is currently placed 4th in the world, among the countries with the highest HIV burden after South Africa, Nigeria and India. 

According to data contained in the UNAIDS Data 2018 report released last month, 1.5 million people are living with HIV in Kenya.

The government on Tuesday unveiled a new machine that reduces effective HIV testing time from more than a month to a week.

The chief research officer at the Kenya Medical Research Institute(KEMRI), Prof Matilu Mwau said the new HIV Viral Load Testing lab has a capacity to test more than 300,000 Kenyans living with HIV in a day.


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