The EAC region is among the hardest hit by HIV. Throughout East Africa, the HIV&AIDS pandemic has resulted in shortened life spans, increasing numbers of orphans, among other challenges which have a negative impact on the EAC integration process, which is dependent on a healthy work force and population in general.
The HIV epidemic in this region is generalised but young women, men who have sex with men, transgender people, sex workers, prisoners and people who inject drugs are at an increased vulnerability to HIV infection. The region has seen an improvement in availability of provider-initiated and community-based HIV testing services which means more people are aware of their HIV status. The number of people living with HIV in East continues to increase, but access to antiretroviral treatment is also on the increase. The key hindrances to HIV prevention have been identified as being mainly cultural, structural and legal barriers.
The HIV and AIDS response in the regions is coordinated by the EAC HIV & AIDS Unit. The Unit provides leadership, coordination and management of EAC’s regional response to HIV & AIDS, guided by HIV and AIDS/STI and TB Multisectoral Strategic Plan (2015–2020). This strategic plan is under implementation with the various development partners led by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida). Other partners include USAID Kenya East Africa, UNAIDS and UNDP as well as regional Civil Society Organizations.
The HIV & AIDS response at the EAC is managed by the EAC Secretariat and implemented through the National AIDS Control Councils, National AIDS and STI Control programmes and the Ministries of Health in the EAC Partner States.
The goal of the HIV & AIDS Programme is to reduce the incidence and mitigate the impact of HIV, TB and STIs in order to secure sustained socio- economic development in the region.
Its specific objectives are:
· To reduce new cases of HIV by 60%, TB by 50% and STIs by 50% by 2020 in the EAC region
· To reduce HIV and TB related mortality by 75% by 2020 in the EAC region
· To increase access and utilization of integrated HIV, TB and STI services by 50% in 2020
The Key Results Areas
i. Access to integrated, high quality HIV and AIDS, TB and STI services and commodities in the EAC regional improved
ii. Regional programs targeting mobile, vulnerable and key populations established and implemented
iii. EAC research and knowledge management platform for evidence-based programming established
iv. A good governance, leadership and Stewardship framework established in the EAC region 5. Regional alternative and sustainable financing models for HIV and AIDS, TB and STIs established