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Headquarters of the Ministry of Health (MoH) in Nairobi. [Edward Kiplimo, Standard]

The latest report on HIV prevalence in Kenya shows that in 2018, some 91.7% of Kenyan men had been circumcised.

The Ministry of Health made the revelations on Friday August 26 at the launch of Kenya’s latest HIV guidelines.

Acting Chief Health Officer Dr Patrick Amoth chaired the event at the Windsor Golf Hotel and Country Club in Nairobi.

The male circumcision figure, in simple terms, means that nine (9) out of ten (10) Kenyan men, in 2018, had undergone circumcision.

Male circumcision, according to science, reduces the risk of contracting HIV.

However, it does not offer complete protection against HIV infection.

“There is conclusive epidemiological evidence showing that uncircumcised men are at a much higher risk of becoming infected with HIV than circumcised men,” states the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI).

“The inner surface of the foreskin contains Langerhans cells with HIV receptors; these cells are likely to be the primary viral entry point into the penis of an uncircumcised male. Male circumcision should be seriously considered as an additional means of HIV prevention in all countries where the prevalence of infection is high,” states the NCBI.

“Kenya is now among the leading countries in the world in adopting voluntary male circumcision,” Dr Amoth said.

Following the success of the voluntary male circumcision campaign and other awareness programs, the Ministry of Health says HIV prevalence in Kenya has fallen from 11% in the mid-1990s to 4.3% in 2021.

At the same time, the number of annual infections has fallen from 75,000 in 2010 to 32,000 in 2021.

The rate of HIV transmission from mother to child has also decreased, from 13.9% in 2010 to 8.3% in 2021.

Access to antiretroviral drugs has increased dramatically, the health ministry report says. In 2006, drugs were only offered in referral hospitals. However, the access points have increased in 2021 to 3,500 establishments spread throughout the territory.

By 2021, some 1.2 million Kenyans had registered for ARV treatment.

Kenya hopes to completely contain HIV/AIDS by 2030.

The Ministry of Health has launched a program which aims to enable 95% of Kenyans to know their HIV status; An additional 95% are put on ARV treatment, and 95% of those on ARV regimens achieve viral suppression.

HIV testing technology has also seen significant progress, with more Kenyans now able to access a rapid test in addition to antibody testing.