It’s been over 20 years since Kenya declared HIV/AIDS a national disaster and every year on 1st December, Kenya joins the entire world in commemorating World AIDS Day as people across the globe unite to show support for people affected by HIV/AIDS.
This year’s theme “Equalize” is aimed at urging every global citizen and partner to address any inequalities holding back progress in ending AIDS.
According to the United Nations, the fight against HIV/AIDS has flattered in the last two years due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic which saw resource allocation dwindle as the pandemic ravaged the globe.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are 38.4 Million people globally living with the virus as of 2021. In Kenya alone, 1.5 million Kenyans are living with HIV, with the national prevalence rate standing at 4.5 percent.
The “Equalize” slogan is therefore a call to action to strive to work for proven and realistic actions needed to address these inequalities and help end AIDS.
Since its inception in Kenya, MYDAWA has been at the forefront of taking practical actions to address inequalities and allocating resources to help end the pandemic.
Last year, for example, MYDAWA announced a $1.2 million grant from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF). This grant is meant to increase delivery of PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) countrywide. The investment has since supported the simplification of PrEP delivery and is expected to expand the reach of PrEP through a discreet and convenient delivery model that MYDAWA is known for.
This year, MYDAWA launched the first Kenyan Telehealth solution tailored to HIV prevention. Telehealth enables patients to access professional medical advice conveniently and privately from their comfort without having to travel to a healthcare facility.
The impact that telehealth will have in the fight against HIV is immense as it is expected to increase the availability of quality services for HIV treatment, testing and prevention as envisioned by this year’s theme.
Like other places globally, HIV is still shrouded with stigma in Kenya. Face-to-face meetings with clinicians often provoke anxiety in patients seeking HIV prevention services for fear of judgment. Therefore, providing HIV prevention services via telehealth enables patients to have a consultation about HIV prevention from a place they are comfortable with. Consequently, this will decrease the barriers to accessing HIV prevention services and bring an end to inequality.
With only eight years left before the 2030 goal of ending AIDS, the global health threat and the facts as reported by UNAIDS are still alarming as indicated below.
Global HIV & AIDS statistics — Fact sheet
- 38.4 million [33.9 million–43.8 million] people globally were living with HIV in 2021.
- 1.5 million [1.1 million–2.0 million] people became newly infected with HIV in 2021.
- 650 000 [510 000–860 000] people died from AIDS-related illnesses in 2021.
- 28.7 million people were accessing antiretroviral therapy in 2021.
- 84.2 million [64.0 million–113.0 million] people have become infected with HIV since the start of the epidemic.
- 40.1 million [33.6 million–48.6 million] people have died from AIDS-related illnesses since the start of the epidemic.
With these statistics, it is evident that the fight against HIV/AIDS is still far from being won. Kenya for example has recorded an increase in new HIV infections for the first time in a decade according to the 2022 World Aids Report. The country recorded 34,540 infections in 2021 compared to 32,025 the previous year.
Considering the impact of this global pandemic even as we celebrate World Aids Day, there is need to give significant attention towards the realization of good health by fighting against this scourge.
Therefore, we must all pull together and ensure that we reduce the infection and death rate associated with HIV/AIDS.0