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Today is World AIDS Day, a day celebrated every year on 1st December. The theme of World Aids Day 2015 is: GETTING TO ZERO; END AIDS BY 2030. 

It calls for expanding antiretroviral therapy to all people living with HIV, the key to ending the Aids epidemic within a generation. The day is also a way to demonstrate international solidarity for people living with HIV and to commemorate the spirit of those who have died battling the deadly disease.

While HIV infections have fallen by 35% and AIDS-related deaths have fallen by 24% since 2000, it continues to be a major global public health issue, claiming hundreds of thousands of lives a year. An estimated 34 million people have HIV globally. 

~ In Kenya, an estimated 1.6 million people, or roughly 4% of the population, are living with HIV. 
~ Every year an average of 89,000 adults and about 11,000 children are infected by HIV.
~ About 30% of the more than 130 000 sex workers in Kenya living with the virus. This is equivalent to more than 38,000 people. 
~ About 11,000 Aids-related deaths annually, a quarter of these deaths occur among children.
~ At more than 10%, HIV prevalence is highest among women and men aged 25 to 44.
~ AIDS is the leading cause of death and illness among adolescents and young people in Kenya: 9,720 adolescents and young people died of AIDS in Kenya in 2014.
~ About 16% of people living with HIV are teenagers and youth. 
~ Nearly one in three persons newly infected with HIV is a teenager or youth, aged between 15-24 years. 
~ Young women are particularly at risk with those aged 15 – 24 years contributing to 21% of all new infections in Kenya.

Despite major progress, HIV and AIDS remains one of Kenya's most significant public health challenges. These include.....
~ Teenage girls and young women contribute to an increasingly large share of new infections.
~ From the Kenya Aids Indicator Survey 2012, more than half of Kenyans living with HIV did not know their HIV status; 16% had never tested (or received test results if tested) and 37% believed they were negative based on self-reporting.

~ Over 680,000 persons living with HIV, including 60,000 children aged 0-14 received antiretroviral treatment. 
~ More than 70% of HIV-positive pregnant women received antiretroviral prophylaxis to prevent transmission to their new born children.

~ Condom use among Kenyans with multiple sexual partners is less than 40%.
~ One in six men who have sex with men and people who inject drugs are HIV positive.
~ About 30% of the more than 130000 sex workers in Kenya are living with HIV. This is equivalent to more than 38,000 people.
~ Due to a fast-track programme targeting sex workers, incidence of sexually transmitted infections dropped from 27% among those screened in 2013 to just 3% in 2015.

~ About 65% of new HIV infections in Kenya occurred in nine counties: Bomet, Homo Bay, Kisii, Kisumu, Migori, Nakuru, Nyamira, Siaya and Turkana.

~ Homa Bay has an HIV prevalence of about 26% it is followed by the counties of Siaya with 24%. In other words, in the two worst hit counties, one in four residents is living with HIV. 

~ The county of Wajir has an HIV prevalence of 0.20, the lowest in the country, followed by Tana River with 1%.

This World AIDS Day, we are being challenged to rethink outdated stereotypes, challenge myths and be positive about HIV. We are also reminded that there are only three ways to get HIV, namely; unprotected sex, sharing needles and mother-to-child transmission. If you are on effective HIV treatment, you are non-infectious.

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