World AIDS Day 2016: FAST TRACK THE IMPLEMENTATION OF HIV SENSITIVE UNIVERSAL HEALTH COVERAGE
On the occasion of World AIDS Day 2016, the National Empowerment Network of people living with HIV/AIDS in Kenya (NEPHAK) is glad to join other stakeholders in renewing the commitment to ‘Fast Track the AIDS response so as to End AIDS in Kenya’.
The World AIDS Day 2015 theme of ‘Ending new HIV Infections’ best captures the aspirations of people living with HIV (PLHIV). We are happy that this national event is focusing on children and adolescents. We also emphasize that in as much as we are focusing on zero new HIV infections, we must still do more to ensure that we end HIV related stigma and end AIDS related deaths.
We must remember that HIV – related stigma and discrimination is still high in – Kenya especially among young people. We are particularly concerned about stigma and discrimination facing children and adolescents born and living with HIV at homes, in schools and at community level. This stigma must stop if we want to win the war on AIDS. We at NEPHAK extend our invitation to the government and other partners to join hands with us to educate communities on how to reduce and eventually eliminate stigma facing children and adolescents born and living with HIV.
Despite progress, the number of AIDS related deaths is still unacceptably high among children and adolescents born and living with HIV. One leading threat to young PLHIV and which must be addressed is Tuberculosis. TB remains the leading cause of sickness and death among young people living with HIV. Cases of non-communicable diseases such as cancers among PLHIV are also increasing at alarming levels. Reducing deaths and achieving zero AIDS related deaths shall require that services to mange other conditions are integrated with HIV treatment and care.
Our World AIDS Day call!
‘Ending AIDS related deaths’ will require that Kenya implements HIV-sensitive universal health coverage schemes to ensure that people living with, at risk of and affected by HIV empowered through HIV-sensitive national social protection programmes, including cash transfers. In addition, the government and partners need to ensure that young people, especially young women and adolescent girls, access combination prevention services and are empowered to protect themselves from HIV. This is the only sure way to improve health and wellbeing of people living with HIV.