61,000: Number of new HIV infections reported last year, says NACC

More needs to be done to curb new HIV infections among the youth. With 61,000 new infections last year alone, the burden on the healthcare system is enormous. Of greater concern though is that the highest rates of infections are among youth aged between 15 and 24 years. The National Aids Control Council (NACC) says this age-group makes up 43 per cent of the new infections, with 26,000 youth testing positive for HIV last year.
It is emerging that despite knowledge of the inherent dangers of unsafe sex, risky behaviour is still prevalent among men. This is happening at a time when huge budgetary cutbacks have reduced HIV awareness campaigns. High risk groups should be told in no uncertain terms that their risky behaviour is inexcusable and unacceptable. It is not enough to celebrate because the new infections have declined by 21 per cent when compared to the 2015 estimates. Or that we have managed to reduce mother to child transmissions by 66 per cent.ALSO READ:Story of Al Shabaab Kenyan sex slave
About 32,000 people, most of them children below the age of 15, succumbed to Aids last year. These grim statistics do little to remind us of the sorrow families undergo. HIV, like other common diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis, continues to put a strain on our healthcare system and the national budget. If behaviour change can help ease the burden, then let us invest in programmes that will trigger social change.

From the NACC findings, it is clear that there needs to be proper targeting of the age-groups most at risk. The vulnerable group of youth aged between 15 and 24 is made of the majority of those who will take up a greater role in nation building in the future. If this segment is unproductive, the country will be worse off for it. Let’s safeguard this group as well as other vulnerable individuals to reduce HIV infections.

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