AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) Kenya has cautioned of a possibility of a new wave of infections in both HIV/AIDS and STIs, citing a budgetary gap in the purchase of condoms as the festive season approaches
Speaking to members of the press on Monday, AIDS Healthcare Foundation Kenya County Director Dr. Samuel Kinyanjui stated that there is a gap of about 112 million condoms, which translates to a budgetary hole of about Ksh38 million.
He termed high taxation on the commodity by Government as one of the major reasons scaring away a lot of donors who supply condoms, hence calling upon National Government to remove all barriers and taxation on the commodity.
‘’We are urging the government to come up with a mechanism for stemming the acute shortage of condoms that has now become routine. We are calling on the government to come up with modalities for bringing down the prevailing high taxes against those willing to step in and help the country restock,” said Dr.Kinyanjui.
According to AHF, Counties facing condom shortage include Bungoma, lakeside counties, Nairobi, and Nakuru with the Coastal region being at a high risk of more Infections, as it is a tourist-attractive site for local and international tourists.
The Civil Society organization has hence decried that with the shortage of condoms, Kenyans risk rolling back the gains made in HIV/AIDS response in the Country as over the years, it has decreased from a peak of 10.5% to lows of 5%.
Total new HIV infections are estimated to have declined in the last seven years; from about 116,000 in 2009 to around 45,000.
Dr. Kinyanjui however noted that Ksh 700 Million Budget allocated for condoms is not sufficient as it only caters to 150 Million Condoms a year, less than 455 Million Condoms needed.
He also emphasized that condoms must be viewed as an investment and not a cost.
“Statistically, with enough condoms, the country will be saved from treating more than 800,000 newly infected persons in the next ten years and up to 5.3 million unplanned pregnancies, 60% of which are teenage, will be averted,” he said, adding that the cost of treating one infected person every year is about Ksh. 30,000/= and this can be avoided.
Athlete Ferdinand Omanyala, AIDS Healthcare Foundation Kenya Youth Ambassador, said AIDS is the leading cause of death and morbidity among adolescents and young people in Kenya.
It is estimated that 51 percent of all new HIV infections in Kenya are among adolescents and youth.
“I need to emphasize that the male latex condom remains the single, most efficient, available technology to reduce HIV and other sexually transmitted infections,” Said Omanyala.