, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 31- United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon on Thursday lauded gains made by Kenya in the fight against HIV/AIDS, over the last three decades, saying the national prevalence rate had fallen significantly.
Mr Ban noted that the rates had declined from about 14 percent in the mid 1990s to five percent in 2006 while mortality rates also reduced by 29 percent between 2002 and 2007.
He added that Kenya had laid a good foundation for eliminating transmission of the virus, although there was still room for improvement.
"There was a strong sense of stigma by the people, which was very unfortunate, but they now live as any other person; they have been integrated into the society," he said adding that issues of discrimination had for a long time undermined the country\’s fight against the epidemic.
Women Fighting Aids in Kenya Field Coordinator, Rebecca Awiti, however said the government should upscale its efforts in reducing the prevalence rate of HIV/AIDS among young women.
She explained that the rates among those aged between 15 and 24 years remained high at 55 percent.
"And if you realise these are women in their adolescence so basically there has not been much focus on that age group and that\’s why they are more prevalent to HIV. We therefore need to create youth friendly services that target them," she said.
Ms Awiti also said that the government should integrate men in the fight against the pandemic for the country to achieve its goal.
According to a report by the United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS women\’s vulnerability to HIV is high in the sub-Saharan Africa with about 76 percent of all HIV positive women living in the region.
"One of the issues slowing us down is that we have not yet fully involved men in this fight. HIV is seen as more of a women\’s issue and we need to correct this misconception in order to meet our targets of reducing HIV," she said.
The research also indicated that there was a high HIV prevalence among discordant couples in East and Southern Africa ranging from 36 percent to 85 percent. In addition, commercial sex workers continued playing an important role in the spread of the virus.
"An estimated 32 percent of new infections in Ghana, 14 percent in Kenya and 10 percent in Uganda are linked to sex work," read the report.
The recommendations in the report will be reviewed by global leaders at this year\’s High Level Meeting on AIDS, from June 8 to 10 in New York.
Meanwhile, Mr Ban also opened the new offices of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT) in Nairobi.
The Secretary General who was joined by President Mwai Kibaki in unveiling the energy-neutral offices noted that the building sector was the single largest contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions with one third of energy use taking place in offices and homes.
"I am so happy to come back to Kenya and we are here to inaugurate this new facility. I am so impressed and I wish I could move here for good because this building is a living mother of our sustainable future," he said.
UN Under Secretary and Executive Director for the UN Environmental Programme, Achim Steiner, argued that the new building would also help the organisation save more than Sh8.3 million in electricity costs per year.
"We will now store our servers in a container next to the building and we expect to cut electricity consumption used for cooling our server rooms by about 80 to 90 percent. This translates to approximately $100,000 saved every year," he pointed out.
The facility shows how sustainable buildings can make a vital contribution towards tackling climate change as well as the transition towards a low-carbon, resource-efficient Green Economy.
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