Kenya: We will not relent in the fight against HIV/AIDS, says President Kibaki

News and Press Release
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Nairobi, January 12 , 2010

The Government has stepped up the fight against HIV/AIDS to reduce its prevalence rate in the country, President Mwai Kibaki said today, but cautioned that Kenyans must not relent in the fight against the disease.

Speaking at Harambee House when he met with the Executive Director of the United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS, Mr. Michel Sidibe, President Kibaki said his Government is tackling the war against HIV as part of Kenya 's national medium and long term development strategy.

"Indeed, Kenya is responding positively to the epidemic and has heavily invested in HIV prevention and treatment," President Kibaki said.

The President is, however, making a passionate plea to Kenyans not to relax but upscale the fight against HIV/AIDS at personal level.

"Government can help in the fight, however, individuals must continue to make deliberate choices to keep HIV/AIDS at bay by being responsible and taking personal decisions fully aware of the reality and dangers of the disease,'' said the President.

He reassured that there is strengthened and renewed political commitment in the fight against the disease. The Head of State cited the effective prevention of mother to child transmission meant to ensure children born of HIV positive mothers are HIV free and the aggressive campaign to place more Kenyans suffering from the disease on anti-retroviral drugs.

The President pointed out that the Government is committed to enacting a National AIDS Control Agency Act before the end of 2010 to strengthen coordination and accountability for resources.

On his part, Mr. Sidibe, thanked Kenya for supporting his campaign that led to his appointment as the Executive Director of UNAIDS.

The UNAIDS Executive Director commended Kenya 's HIV/AIDS programs, saying coordination among various AIDS agencies in the country is going on well.

Noting that more people are dying of AIDS in Africa than in the developed countries, Mr. Sidibe expressed the need for concerted efforts to address the inequality.

Speaking during the meeting, Special Programmes Minister Dr. Naomi Shabani and Public Health and Sanitation Minister Beth Mugo appealed to expectant mothers to attend antenatal clinics after delivery to minimize chances of mother to child HIV transmission.

In order to accelerate attainment of the Government's target of ensuring that 80 per cent of Kenyans know their HIV status, the Government and partners have over the last three years held national HIV testing campaigns popularly known as Jitambue Campaign.

During the 2009 national HIV testing campaign, the Government succeeded in exceeding the target of testing one million Kenyans over a three week period in November and December. Today, it is estimated that over 40 per cent of adult Kenyans have tested for HIV, making the country one of the few countries in sub Saharan Africa to have reached that level.

Also present at the meeting were Special Programs Assistant Minister Mohamed Muhamud and the Head of Public Service and Secretary to the Cabinet Amb. Francis Muthaura among others.