Health experts fear HIV crisis for uprooted Kenyans – 30 Jan 08

Health experts fear HIV crisis for uprooted Kenyans
30 Jan 2008 11:02:02 GMT

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Source: Reuters

By Laura MacInnis GENEVA, Jan 30 (Reuters) – Thousands of uprooted Kenyans are not getting the HIV medicines they need to survive, and rising sexual attacks in camps stand to further spread the disease, public health experts say. About 15,000 of the more than 250,000 people who have fled political, ethnic and revenge attacks in the month since Kenya’s disputed presidential election are HIV-positive, according to Kenyan Health Ministry figures cited by UNAIDS. Of that group, 2,550 were taking anti-retroviral therapy to suppress the virus that causes AIDS before escalating violence forced them out of their homes and cut off their access to the drugs that must be taken continuously to work. An unknown additional number of HIV patients are marooned in their homes, missing treatments because local health clinics are closed, or because they are too afraid to risk the journey. “We don’t know where our patients are,” Florence Muli-Musiime, deputy director-general of the Kenya-based African Medical and Research Foundation, said in a statement. “We had a very good tracking system using our contacts in the community, but this has now broken down,” she said. Elisabeth Byrs, a spokeswoman for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Geneva, said Kenya’s HIV crisis could become much more acute unless tensions calm soon.

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