At least 98 girls aged between 10 and 19 years were infected with HIV every week in 2021 down from 343 girls in 2015, Health Principal Secretary (PS) Susan Mochache has revealed.
The Health PS was speaking during a national dialogue meeting with county commissioners on their coordinating role in tackling HIV, teenage pregnancies and gender-based violence in Kenya. The event kicked off on Wednesday and is expected to conclude on April 10.
According to Mochache, in the period between 2013 and 2021, HIV related deaths in the country dropped by 67 per cent owing to concerted sensitization efforts by the Ministry of Health and other stakeholders.
This led to an 83 per cent surge in the number of people living with HIV that are on life-saving antiretroviral treatment. In 2013, the number stood at 600,000 persons but by 2021 the number doubled to 1.2 million people.
Countrywide cases of teenage pregnancies also fell by 26 per cent to 317,644 in 2021 up from 427,135 cases in 2018. According to PS Mochache, counties such as Kilifi, Taita Taveta and Siaya, which have in the past recorded high cases of teenage pregnancies, halved the incidences by 50 per cent.
“This year, in the months of January and February, we attended to 45,724 pregnant adolescents of the same age group and 2,196 cases of sexual and gender-based violence among those aged 12-17,” PS Mochache said in her address.
“In 2021, of all antenatal care attendances, 21 per cent were adolescent mothers aged 10-19. Worse still, a total of 23,279 girls aged 10-14 were recorded in the health facilities as presenting with pregnancies.”
In matters of sexual and gender-based violence, 12,250 cases were reported across the country in 2021. Out of these 4,664 persons were able to receive HIV preventive services while 53 of them acquired the deadly disease.
Mochache also highlighted an alarming trend that has seen young people partake in hard drugs which has left them susceptible to contracting HIV and Hepatitis infections.
According to Mochache, securing the health, safety and education of young girls must remain a key priority and this agenda must be tackled with a preventive lens through a multi-faceted approach.
“Tackling the challenges facing our youth will continue to rely on a multifaceted approach. I applaud the partnership between the National AIDS Control Council and the National Council for Population and Development that will allow us to harness various platforms such as working with County and Regional Commissioners to address key health and population challenges,” Mochache said.