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Marsabit residents urged to go for HIV testing 

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The health department in Marsabit county has been challenged to devise innovative ways and home grown techniques to encourage HIV testing if the county is to reduce mother to child HIV infection and expand antiretroviral treatment.

Speaking during World Aids day on Saturday at Laisamis primary school, Marsabit First Lady Alamitu Jattani encouraged the residents to go for HIV testing saying knowing their status was not a death penalty.

“The goal of eradicating the HIV and Aids pandemic can be achieved if we tailor the response to individual needs at particular times in life,” Jattani said.

She said stigmatization of people living with HIV is driven by ignorance and fear and it was because of such fear that people were reluctant to be tested.

Read: Mother-to-child HIV infection down to 3.7%

She encouraged those living with the virus to be attending public participation forums for their needs to be factored in the budget.

Jattani said that a lot still needs to be done despite the strides that have been made towards prevention of new HIV infections.

She said that women in Marsabit are more vulnerable to HIV infection than men as the prevalence rate in women stands at 1.8 per cent compared to 0.8 per cent in men.

The First Lady further revealed that the number of children born with the HIV virus in Marsabit county is two times higher than the national average.

She attributed this to the fact that about 76 per cent of HIV positive women don’t deliver in health facilities.

Read also: Nurses strike drove up HIV infection of children

Jattani said the war against HIV and Aids will be won once efforts are made to secure adolescents and youths who remain at high risk of infection.

Marsabit deputy governor’s wife Rodha Gubo said continued investment, commitment and innovation are necessary for a HIV free future.

She advised the youth to avoid drug abuse and instead join polytechnics to train and acquire skills.

County executive committee of health D. R Jama Walde said although there remains no cure for HIV, life expectancy for people diagnosed with the virus has increased following the introduction of High Active Antiretroviral therapy.

More than 1000 people gathered to commemorate World Aids day at Laisamis.

The event was also used as the venue for HIV testing and counseling to locals.

The day is observed globally to encourage people to know their HIV status.

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