Boy, 11, shares HIV survival story, receives standing ovation at UN meeting

President Uhuru Kenyatta speaks to Lemayan after his speech
President Uhuru Kenyatta speaks to Lemayan after his speech

An 11-year-old boy, Elijah Lemayan, on Sunday received a standing ovation at the United Nations General Assembly after he shared his heartbreaking story on living with HIV/AIDS.

Lemayan shared his experience and challenges and those faced by other young people who are living with HIV/AIDS in Kenya.

UNAIDS Director, Mr Michel Sidibe, said he invited Lemayan to the UN Headquarters after he met him in Nairobi with President Kenyatta and was moved by his story.

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“I was moved to tears by his moving story and I told him he must come to New York and share his story with the whole world and not with Kenyans alone,” said Mr Sidibe.

Kenya will spearhead efforts to keep HIV medication affordable and will make it a big agenda at the upcoming World Trade Organisation Summit that will be held in Nairobi in December.

President Uhuru Kenyatta made the announcement on Sunday when he chaired a high-level meeting on HIV/AIDS at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.

President Kenyatta said governments must ensure HIV commodities, particularly anti-retroviral medication, continue to be available at affordable prices.

“Since HIV treatment is for life, there is need to safeguard and extend HIV related trade and intellectual property flexibilities,” said the president in his speech.

He added that Africa was on its way to start production of ARVs following a resolution reached through an African Union plan to end HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

He also called for increased financing to bring HIV/AIDS to an end and added that Kenya’s commitment to this goal was proven.

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“Kenya, in recognising the importance of the Global Fund as a financing mechanism, contributed more than Sh200 million to the 2014 Global Fund replenishment.  I urge partners to contribute generously and replenish the Global Fund,” said president Kenyatta adding that the government has further allocated over Sh2.6 billion for HIV related commodities in the current financial year, 2015/16.

He noted that Kenya has continued to prioritise and invest in preventive HIV vaccine development as a key element of the globally acknowledged prevention revolution roadmap.

“I urge my fellow leaders to make solid commitments for HIV,” said the president at the meeting, which was also addressed by President Arthur Peter Mutharika and Mali President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.

The head of state noted that tremendous success has been achieved in combating HIV/AIDS over the last decade but more needs to be done to eradicate the epidemic.

“We must spur resources now and front-load investments in prevention of HIV targeting affected locations and populations in order to bring our epidemic under control,” said Kenyatta.

He added that global leaders must commit themselves to eliminate mother to child transmission of HIV because that is the key to achieving their goal. (PSCU)

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