Despite efforts by national governments and counties for mothers to give birth to babies without HIV, new infections among children have increased over the last year, says a new report.
The follow-up report on Kenya's AIDS response for 2018 shows that children under 14 years of age contributed to 7,978 new infections in 2017, up from 7,105 in 2016.
New infections were more common among boys (4,044) and girls (3,935).
Of the 52,800 new infections registered for all ages in 2017, 8,000 were children aged zero to 14 years, or about 20 new infections per day.
Despite Kenya's adoption of UNICEF's Option B + program and the Joint United Nations Program on HIV and AIDS, mothers and their newborns are receiving antiretroviral drugs to keep the baby HIV-negative while enjoying the benefits of breast milk.
An infant is considered to be exposed to HIV if his mother is HIV positive. It can catch the virus during pregnancy, at birth or while breastfeeding.
However, efforts such as maternal adherence to antiretroviral drugs and skilled delivery can significantly reduce the risk of contracting HIV in children.
Kenya is seeking to reduce the prevalence of HIV in this age group to 5% of total new infections.
However, when comparing the number of HIV-positive children, the number of children increased from 109,878 in 2016 to 105,213 in 2017, the number being higher among boys (52,978) than among girls ( 52,235), according to the 2018 estimates published on Friday. by the National Council for the Control of Aid.
The report found that of the total number of people living with HIV in 2017, 105,213, or 6%, were children aged zero to 14 years old.
Half of the HIV-positive children came from seven counties: Homa Bay (10,722), Siaya (9,501), Kisumu (9,439), Nairobi (8,137), Migori (6,161), Kakamega (4,224) and Nakuru (4 026).
Homa Bay (700), Nairobi (660), Siaya (620), Kisumu (616), Kakamega (437), Migori (432), Nakuru (325) and Busia had a high number of new HIV infections among children of under 14 years old. (318), contributing to 5 1% of new infections among children aged zero to 14 in 2017.
The report indicates that 4,312 children died in 2017 as a result of HIV infection. This was a reduction from 2016 deaths, which amounted to 4,586 children dying from HIV-related causes.
About 56% of these deaths occurred in nine of 47 counties, including Homa Bay (420), Nairobi (380), Siaya (372), Kisumu (369), Migori (259), Kakamega (195), Nakuru (174) , Busia (142) and Mombasa (124).
The report, which also collects data on children and adults, indicates that 86,325 children are taking antiretrovirals, or 85% of them.
It also revealed that in 2017, 53,067 women living with HIV had received antiretrovirals to prevent transmission to their newborns, which represented 76% coverage, while 96,497 mothers still needed this service.
According to 2018 estimates, the transmission from mother to child is 11.5%.
The program for preventing mother-to-child HIV transmission described in the report has expanded rapidly in recent years.
Through the intensification of this program since 2004, approximately 132,300 HIV-infected children have been prevented until 2017 due to the intensification of PMTCT.
"Routine HIV testing of pregnant women at PMTCT sites has now achieved high coverage and is used in the estimation process to inform national trends in HIV prevalence," the report says.
According to county data estimates, many counties have performed well in PMTCT and the rate of mother-to-child transmission has improved in most counties.
Mombasa County ranks first with 1 per cent maternal-child coverage with 1,770 mothers under PMTCT and 1,986 people requiring services with the lowest transmission rate (3.4 per cent).
Migori ranks second with 93% coverage, followed by Bomet County with 91%. The counties of Homa Bay and Nairobi are in fourth position with 90% coverage.
According to the data, Wajir County has the highest mother-to-child transmission rate of 32%, followed by Mandera at 31%, Garissa at 28%, Marsabit at 23%, Tharaka Nithi at 20%. % and Muranga at 20%.
The counties with the lowest transmission rate are Mombasa (3.4%), Kiambu (6.2%), Lamu (7%), Migori (7.2%), Bomet (7.7%) and ) and Homa Bay (8.1%).
According to researchers, giving AIDS drugs directly to infants breastfed by their HIV-positive mothers would significantly reduce their risk of contracting the killer virus.
A study published in the medical journal The Lancet found that less than 1.5% of children receiving one of two anti-viral drugs during their 12-month breastfeeding caught the virus from their mothers .
Breastfeeding, especially in poorer countries, is one of the best ways to improve infant survival, but is also a way for women to transmit the virus causing AIDS to their infants.
When mothers were taking antiretroviral drugs themselves, the risk of transmission was about 0.2% per month, or 2.4% overall for 12 months of breastfeeding.