by Fredrick Ngugi, at 04:09 am, March 28, 2016, Lifestyle

Over Half A Million Kenyans Don’t Know They Have HIV

About 530,000 Kenyans don’t know they are HIV positive, a report published by the Daily Nation has revealed. According to the report, a recent study done by the Ministry of Health in conjunction with the National Aids and STI Control Program shows that for every three Kenyans who test HIV positive, at least one new case is diagnosed through their referral.

Through the Assisted Partner Notification Services study, 1,119 Kenyans who tested positive were asked to provide contact information of people they have had sex with in the last three years. The study, however, excluded women who faced the risk of sexual partner violence.

Dr. Peter Cherutich from the Ministry of Health led the research and said they recruited patients who had tested HIV positive and requested them to provide contact details of their partners, including the casual ones. “We then notified these partners through phone calls within two days and in some instances visited them,” he added.

According to the report, health care providers presented themselves as employees of the Ministry of Health mainly from Kenyatta National Hospital. Partners were also informed that their contact details were obtained from the National AIDS and STI Control Programme database.

Of the 1,119 HIV patients involved in the study, about 671 referred only one sexual partner while 448 of them mentioned more than one. In total, 1,872 names of intimate partners were provided, among whom HIV prevalence stood at 35%, which is seven times higher than the national average.

According to Dr. Cherutich, people who test positive for HIV are always advised to inform their sexual partners of their status and encourage them to go for testing. He also noted that this method has boosted HIV case-finding, minimized new infections and improved timely treatment.

In a previous report published in June 2014 by the Ministry of Health, counties like Homa Bay, Migori, Kisumu and Siaya recorded the highest number of new HIV infections, with some recording as high as 65% of new adult infections.

The report, which was labeled Kenya HIV Prevention Revolution Road Map, showed that some of the key populations with the highest number of new HIV infections included sex workers, gays, and people who take drugs through injections.

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