Bomet County joined the rest of the world in commemorating World AIDS Day at Mogogosiek Baraza Park in Konoin Subcounty, marking the 35th anniversary since the world united to dedicate this significant occasion to raise awareness and affirmative action on HIV and AIDS globally.

The theme of this year’s AIDS Day is “Let Communities Lead,” which aims at sensitizing the communities on the importance of creating awareness on the effects of AIDS, how one gets infected, and prevention measures.

According to Bomet County Governor Prof. Hillary Barchok, whose speech was read by CECM for Health Dr. Joseph Sitonik, Bomet County has an estimated number of 15,114 people living with HIV and AIDS. Out of this number, 11,372 people are under antiretroviral treatment as of November 2023, and the rest are yet to be identified. The governor expressed optimism that the rest will come out voluntarily for testing and put on medication.

Governor Barchok’s speech emphasized that the major problem that the County Government of Bomet is facing is mother-to-child transmission with a rate of 11.5%, compared to the national rate of 8.6%. The main causes of these being delayed ANC attendance, treatment discontinuation because of stigma, and mixed feeding before the six months of age. He therefore urged all expectant mothers to attend clinics regularly to reduce transmission.

“Despite all efforts made, the county rate of mother-to-child transmission prevention is 11.5%, whereas the national rate is 8.6%. This is a significant challenge notwithstanding the measures implemented in our facilities,” he said.

With the number of infections among youths continuing to increase at an alarming rate of 42%, the County Government of Bomet has developed the County AIDS Implementation Plan (CAIP 2020/2021-2024/2025) to help in resource mobilization towards HIV/AIDS response, with specific emphasis given to programs targeting youths.

In his speech, the county boss assured the residents of Bomet that his administration is working around the clock to ensure that AIDS infection is reducing by advocating for different prevention measures.

On his part, the County CECM for Education, Dr. Joseph Sitonik, called upon the community to be responsible in sensitizing the message about HIV/AIDS. He said they should use platforms like Barazas and village meetings to do the same.

According to statistics, 1.3 million of the 1.4 million people living with HIV receive ARVs from more than 3,000 health facilities in Kenya, including more than 48,000 children and 55,000 breastfeeding mothers.

In 1988, the global community set aside every December 1 to commemorate World AIDS Day to renew their commitment to ending AIDS as a public health threat. In Kenya, the first case was officially recorded 38 years ago. Since then, the country has lost more than 2 million people to AIDS-related deaths.