Kenya to roll out interventions to reduce HIV among newborns

The letters HIV in palm of hands-Source Getty images

Kenya plans to roll out a raft of interventions to reverse the HIV epidemic among newborns.

Catherine Ngugi, head of the division of national aids and sexually transmitted infections control program (NASCOP) at the Ministry of Health, told journalists in Nairobi that the rate of mother-to-child transmission of HIV among pregnant women increased from 6.7 percent in 2016 to 12.4 percent in 2018.

“We are encouraging all pregnant women to give birth at health facilities where they can be tested and if found to be HIV positive to be put on medication, so that the country achieves a target of less than five percent of mother-to-child transmission,” said Ngugi.

Government data indicates that in 2018, Kenya reported 52,800 new infections across all age groups, including 8,000 infections among children under the age of 14.

Ngugi said that the HIV epidemic is geographically diverse, ranging from a prevalence rate of above 20 percent to less than one percent in some counties.

She said that there has been a continued decline in HIV prevalence rate among all age groups especially between last year and 2010. The absolute numbers of new HIV infections has also reduced in the past few years despite an increase in population.

Ngugi added that Kenya remains hopeful it will achieve progress towards zero new HIV infections by the year 2030.