, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 6 – The government intends to place an additional 70,000 persons living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) on treatment in the next two months in addition to the 400,000 already on medication.
The National AIDS and STI Control Programme head Dr Ibrahim Mohammed said on Wednesday that this was part of an initiative to put an extra 300,000 people on ARV treatment in the next three years.
Speaking during a HIV care and treatment consultative forum, he said this was in accordance with the latest World Health Organisation guidelines that required patients with a CD4 count, immune cells that fight infection , of 350 and below to be put on treatment.
"If we are able to cover as many people on treatment, we will be able to reduce the viral load which means that we will be able to reduce the infections," Dr Mohammed explained.
"The other thing is we are putting all patients with TB (tuberculosis) irrespective of their CD4 count on treatment because TB is the major killer of persons living with HIV/AIDS," he said.
Dr Mohammed said that when on treatment, the viral load of a person could sometimes reach undetectable levels which meant that there was minimal chance of transmission.
The Head of the Technical Support Division at the National Aids Control Council Dr Francis Muu said they would carry out an aggressive campaign on treatment to ensure universal access.
"The critical thing is that Kenyans need to know their HIV status. You cannot be put on treatment unless we know your status," Dr Muu emphasised.
"Right now about 50-60 percent of Kenyans know their status but the universal access is 80 percent. If asked, I would wish 100percent of Kenyans know their status because then you can be put on treatment, care what we are calling community and home based care," he said.
He said it was important for Kenyans to know that antiretroviral treatment was available and it was the right of every person living with HIV to access ARV\’s.
"We have what we call universal targets which were agreed upon by heads of states and Kenya is a signatory to the universal targets requirements. It\’s not like we are trying to make anything special," he said.
Acting PEPFAR (US President\’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief) Country Co-coordinator Dr Nancy Knight said the biggest challenge remained the sustainability of the HIV/AIDS programmes.
"System strengthening is a critical aspect of being able to bring the services that have started into the future so that we can continue to impact on the health of Kenyans," she said.
According to latest government statistics, HIV prevalence rate in the country is at 7.8 percent.