On Thursday, officials with the UN and Kenya's National AIDS Control Program warned that ongoing unrest in the nation could prompt a new wave of HIV infections, threatening to erase the progress achieved so far. Of the 300,000 displaced Kenyans, 15,000 are HIV/AIDS patients and less than 2,400 are receiving antiretroviral (ARV) treatment, said NACP.
More than 1,000 Kenyans have died in fighting that followed a Dec. 27 presidential election the opposition claims was rigged.
"AIDS likes crises, people are on the move, people are restless, people are worried and the danger of the spread of AIDS is very serious," NACP chief Miriam Were said. Many patients likely lost essential medical records; this, she said, will complicate efforts to resume their treatment even after the violence subsides.
"We have a concern that if this crisis continues, we might not be able to continue to keep people on treatment, which will lead us to the more complicated problem of resistance," said Erusmas Morah, Kenya's UNAIDS representative.
"There is transaction sex in exchange for shelter, food, and protection… Let us pray that soon enough we can be back to maintaining the wonderful record that Kenya has had in fighting HIV," said Morah. The country's official prevalence rate is 5.1 percent, down from 5.9 percent in 2005.
The Kenyan government has created an HIV/AIDS/TB emergency response task force to collect information on the situation. "Although rapid HIV/AIDS/TB assessment tools have been sent to all provinces, feedback has been slow despite constant follow-up," said Were.