Kenya has enough ARVs, says govt

December 1, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 1 – The government on Tuesday assured that there are enough anti retroviral drugs for people living with HIV who require the treatment.

Special Programmes Minister Naomi Shaban said the government had mobilised enough resources to ensure availability of the life prolonging treatment.

“The government together with development partners has ensured drugs are available in all parts of the country and people should not worry about that. We have also ensured that condoms are distributed free,” she said during an event to mark the World AIDS day at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre in Nairobi.

According to medics, not every person living with HIV is necessarily on the anti retroviral therapy. It is recommended for those with a low CD4 count. The CD4 count is a type of cell that protects the body from infection and is found in the immune system.

The Human Immuno-deficiency virus (HIV) normally attacks the CD4 cells and uses them to produce more of the virus which weakens the immune system making it unable to protect the body from opportunistic infections.

A person who is HIV negative is required to have about 700 CD4 cells while those living with HIV are required to have above 500 CD4 cells in a drop of blood.

On Monday a non governmental Organisation representing persons living with HIV/AIDS complained that there was a shortage of the drugs and the situation would be worsened by the country’s failure to secure more cash from the global Aids fund.

Dr Shabaan also emphasised on the need to work towards reduction of new HIV infections in the country.

“The AIDS pandemic is real and we should not ignore this problem and as Kenyans we should join hands with the government to fight this pandemic,” she said.

“One way of doing this is by ensuring all of us know our HIV status,” the Minister added.

She noted that the country had made much progress since the first AIDS case was diagnosed in 1985 in terms of stigma.

“People are far more relaxed and inclined to talk about the disease now than they were then. But of course in some parts of the country particularly Northern Kenya there is still a silence surrounding the virus that is driven by fear and stigma,” she said.

The Kenya AIDS Indicator Survey released earlier this year showed that up to 80 percent of Kenyans don’t know their HIV status and this posed the danger of spreading the virus.

The government has now embarked on a massive HIV testing campaign dubbed ‘Jitambue’ which means ‘know’ your status and targets adults in a relationship who do not know their status.


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