Saturday, April 13, 2024

Kisumu hosts HIV conference amid new wave of infection among youths

At least 30 per cent of new HIV infections in Kenya is reported among young people aged between 15 to 24 years.

This means that the burden of HIV is highest among that cohort making them disproportionately affected by HIV and AIDS.

Adolescents and young women remain at the highest risk of new HIV infections and it has been a concern among experts globally

Kawango Agot

According to HIV/AIDS scientist Prof Kawango Agot, the figures are even higher among the female population of that cohort compared to their male peers.

“Adolescents and young women remain at the highest risk of new HIV infections and it has been a concern among experts globally,” says Kawango.

She adds: “This is part of the reason behind the forthcoming Reducing HIV among Adolescents and Youth (RHAY) conference that will be held in Kisumu at the end of June.”

Back seat

Unlike other conferences where young people take a backseat, Kawango said the RHAY conference will give an opportunity for the young people to speak about their issues and solutions.

She said the idea was born in 2014 at a conference in South Africa where young people expressed their frustrations on being left out of key deliberations affecting them.

The RHAY conference will have presentations, both orals and posters as well as other activities done by the adolescents and youth who will be in attendance.

We have gone through a long process of mentoring these young people on how their ideas about HIV interventions could be implemented by themselves, within their spaces

Kawango Agot

“We have gone through a long process of mentoring these young people on how their ideas about HIV interventions could be implemented by themselves, within their spaces,” said Kawango.

The ideas have been funded to a tune of Sh500, 000 for each of the awardees.

The awardees were picked from a number of responses to a call that are funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation under a program known as 30 under 30.

Thirty young people below the age of 30 years as at 2020 benefited from the fund and some of the ideas are already being implemented.

Awards

Winnie Wadera, the head of the conference secretariat said that the process of picking the best 30 ideas was rigorous, including clearances from research regulatory bodies in Kenya and the region.

“These unique ideas for HIV interventions will be showcased at the conference and we are all looking forward to that.” She said.

Some of the ideas are already being implemented.

More than 300 delegates from 9 countries in Africa will be attending physically and many others have signed up to attend virtually for the conference that starts on 21st June for four days.

Some of the ideas include best ways of improving PrEP uptake, approaches for better condom distribution, risk mitigation among the fisher folk population among others.

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