Covid-19 posing challenge to uptake of HIV testing services, says CAS Aman

Health CAS Rashid Aman speaking to the press. Photo/Courtesy

As the world marked the World AIDS Day, the Ministry of Health revealed that the Covid-19 pandemic has posed a challenge to the uptake of HIV testing services in Kenya, with testing significantly reducing. Health CAS Rashid Aman said this has been caused by low outpatient hospital visits during the pandemic period, “There has been a decline in the months between January 2019 and June 2020 with the lowest uptake noted between March and April where testing volumes reduced by 33%,” he said, adding that antenatal clinic attendance and testing were not impacted.

He urged Kenyans not to shy away from visiting health facilities, despite the prevalence of the Coronavirus. However, the CAS noted the gains made by the country, outlining that over 96% of HIV positive people who know their status in Kenya are on life saving treatment. More than 90% who are in treatment have controlled the HIV virus and pose a low risk of transmission, “This is evidenced by the decrease of new HIV infections to less than 36,000 in 2018, a stark reduction from 106,000 recorded in 2012,” said Aman, “We have made tremendous progress between that period of time…Kenya is well on its way to achieving epidemic control.”

He added that in Kenya over 1.1 million people are benefiting from ARVs an achievement he attributed to factors including a good partnership with bilateral and multilateral agencies, a multi-sectoral response with a strong health sector relationship and strong political commitment, “There has also been an upward trend of clients enrolled on ARVs between January 2018 and July 2019, and a decline up to June 2020,” he said, pointing out that so far 97% have achieved viral load suppression.