US to increase HIV funding to Kenya, African countries

The US could increase its HIV funding to Africa at least beyond 2050, to counter an expected youth bulge in the continent.

For the first time, the US says the youth population in Africa expected to double from the current 1.1 billion to 2.1 billion in 2050 could reverse gains made in HIV control.

Such gains, for example a significant drop in new HIV infections and deaths in Kenya have seen the US reduce its funding to the country.

The US has also required Kenya Government and local organizations to start taking over most of its HIV funded programmes, hence sending panic among local beneficiaries.

These decisions are largely based on convictions within the US Government that the HIV pandemic has largely been controlled in countries such as Kenya.

However a recent advisory by the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) to the Senate, says this is not the time for HIV funding cut back in Africa.

The advisory is informed by a performance audit carried out by GAO from July 2019 to May 2021 in Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa and Uganda.

It actually advises the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), to urgently start assessing the financial resources required for the long term HIV control in Africa.

“The Secretary of State should ensure the US Global AIDS Coordinator assesses the long-term resources PEPFAR needs to continue progress toward the goal of HIV epidemic control,” says the advisory in part.

The report signed by David Gootnick, Director, International Affairs and Trade says their recommendations have been accepted by the State.

In the report addressed to Robert Menendez Chairman Committee on Foreign Relations in the Senate, GAO argues that the youth increase in Africa may wipe out current HIV declines.

PEPFAR, the report says has identified the growing population of youth as a challenge that, unless addressed, may roll back progress made in reducing HIV and thus in achieving and sustaining the 90-90-90 or 95-95-95 goals of HIV epidemic control.

Current PEPFAR resources the report says are targeted at achieving epidemic control by 2030 but with no contingency of what happens after that.

After that, the report says the youth population in Africa will have increased dramatically and with it new HIV infections. 

Youth in Africa, GAO says are vulnerable to HIV infections because of limited knowledge of HIV, multiple sex partners and low condom use. Among young girls, this is worsened by partner violence, poverty and transactional sex.

The report suggest the proposed long term HIV funding be targeted at increasing promotion of condoms, HIV prevention pills, male circumcision and increased testing and treatment of younger men.

About Gatonye Gathura 125 Articles
Science Journalist

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