, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 3 – The Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation has stressed the need for faithfulness in marriages to reduce the spread of HIV.
This follows a survey, which revealed that 44 percent of HIV related illnesses are prevalent in married couples, and those most affected were women.
Minister Beth Mugo stated on Friday that the rate can be reduced if there is proper dialogue between both partners.
“Even when the wife suspects highly that there is a side arrangement going on. They can’t still negotiate for safe sex,” Mrs Mugo said.
“How are we going to empower these women without necessarily blowing up the marriages but being able to contain the marriages and helping these women to be a bit safer in their relationship?” she further posed.
She was speaking during a HIV forum where she launched a new communication strategy for HIV prevention in Kenya.
“We must come up with ways of supporting this very vulnerable group. There is need to promote discussions on the dangers of multiple sexual partnerships,” she emphasised.
“This campaign we are launching today (Friday) therefore aims at promoting discussions about concurrent multiple sexual partnerships within the families.”
Speaking at the same time, National Aids and STDs Control Programme (NASCOP) Director Nicholas Muraguri said that the HIV rate in rural areas has risen, while the scourge has recorded a noted reduction in the urban areas.
He attributed this rise to cultural practices like polygamy and wife inheritance, which hasten the spread of the virus.
He stressed the need for sensitization exercises to be carried out in these areas to reduce the spread of the scourge.
“In Certain areas, HIV continues to be a problem. In Nyanza, Coast, Eastern and some parts of eastern province, the prevalence is increasing,” he said.
He went on to point out the difference in HIV prevalence between men and women.
“Before someone is 30 – 34, most women are usually affected. The HIV prevalence is 13.3 percent for women while for men it is 8.9,” Dr Muraguri explained.
“If you look lower, between 20 – 24 years, HIV prevalence among men is 1.9 percent but among women 7.4 percent; almost four times that of men!”
According to the 2007 Kenya Indicator Survey (KAIS), Nyanza province lead with infections, followed by Nairobi, Coast, Rift Valley, Western, Eastern, Central, and North Eastern provinces in that order.
But while Nairobi and Central provinces registered a decrease in the HIV prevalence rate, other provinces recorded increasing infection rates when compared to the 2003 Kenya Demographic and Health Survey (KDHS) findings.
The number of those going for HIV testing has increased compared to the 2003 levels, and the number of women who have been tested is almost twice the number of men.