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Experts Raise Alarm Over High Mother-to-Child HIV Transmission Rate in Garissa County


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Stakeholders in Garissa County have raised concerns over the high rate of mother-to-child transmission of HIV, which currently stands at 18.1%. Experts warn that this high rate will hinder the county’s efforts to eliminate transmission to children by 2027.

Charles Ayuka, the county head of prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and AIDS, stated that the maternal transmission rate must be below 5% for the county to be certified as having achieved the elimination goal. He emphasized the need for all partners and stakeholders to double their efforts.

“As a county, our mother-to-child transmission is still high. We still have a long way to go in as far as elimination of mother-to-child transmission is concerned,” Ayuka said.

To address this issue, Garissa County has come up with an inclusive work plan to operationalize within the next month. The plan involves collaboration with partners such as UNICEF and the Kenya Red Cross.

Christabel Oduor of the Kenya Red Cross said the program has helped address stigma and abuse of rights of people living with HIV. She noted that initially, clients were hesitant to seek treatment due to fear of being stigmatized, but the program has helped reduce this barrier.

Esther Musyoka of WEFCO described the program’s three-year success, stating that they have been able to put defaulters back on antiretroviral drugs, which had compromised their immune systems.

“As a society, we should accept that these are our brothers and sisters and embrace them. The reality is, this disease is here with us, and the earlier we all accept it, the better,” Musyoka said.

Data shows that more than 67,000 children are currently living with HIV, and about 4,500 new pediatric infections occurred in 2022. Eliminating mother-to-child transmission has pillars that include early testing, arresting mother-to-child transmission, and preventing new infections among women already living with HIV.

Stakeholders in Garissa County are committed to addressing the high mother-to-child HIV transmission rate and working towards the goal of elimination by 2027.

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