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Health CAS Dr Mercy Mwangangi.

Capital Health

Kenya fears for HIV patients during COVID pandemic

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 24 – The Ministry of Health says Kenya’s rate of HIV/AIDS infection has drastically reduced during the COVID-19 pandemic, but is worried on the risk posed to people living with the virus.

Health Chief Administrative Secretary Dr Mercy Mwangangi said out of the COVID-19 patients living with HIV, 96 percent are on life-saving treatment, while more than 90 percent of those on treatment have controlled the virus, as a result posing a low risk of transmission.

“Right now, we have 83 percent of HIV clients being identified. We do fear that COVID-19 may actually reduce this percentage,” the CAS said.

Kenya had 36,000 cases of HIV in 2018, compared to 100,000 in 2012, in what she described as a major gain against the virus.

“Of those we have identified, we have 87 percent enrolled in care but again we are concerned since being on enrolled care means you are attending to your clinics and you are getting your prescriptions, but with COVID-19, this is going to be affected.”

Currently, the country has some 1.1 million on antiretrovirals, but Mwangangi said the gains are threatened because people visiting health facilities had dropped by 30 per cent since March when the coronavirus pandemic broke out in the country.

She further said community testing for HIV has also reduced by 71 pc despite the services still being available.

“Even with the emergence OF COVID-19, as a government we continue to put in place enough resources to ensure testing of HIV is available,” she assured.

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By July 24, the country had recorded 16,268 cases and 274 deaths.

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