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World Bank Loans Kenya 80 Million Dollars to Boost War on AIDS

The World Bank has approved a loan of 80 million dollars (60 million euros) to boost Kenya's efforts to fight HIV/AIDS, which poses a major challenge in the country, an official statement said Wednesday.

The funds will be used to strengthen the National AIDS Control Council (NACC), the country's frontline agency in fighting the deadly disease that has killed at least 1.5 million people since 1984.

"We are determined that the support should reach the five million people in Kenya - especially orphans and young women - who are directly and indirectly affected and made very vulnerable by the disease," said Colin Bruce, the bank's representative in Kenya, in the statement.

Britain's Department for International Development (DfID) is also expected to provide 33 million dollars (25 million euros) in additional funding towards the country's war against the scourge, the statement added.

The NACC said Tuesday the rate of HIV/AIDS infections in the country of nearly 35 million fell from 6.1 percent in 2004 to 5.9 percent in 2005.

A shift in sexual habits and the more widespread use of condoms had played a large part in curbing infections, whose prevalence Kenya aims to slash to a rate of 5.5 percent by 2010, said the agency.

At least 1.3 million people are currently living with HIV/AIDS in Kenya, 65 percent of whom are women between the ages of 19 and 45, according to NACC statistics.

Last year, Kibaki announced that public hospitals would no longer charge HIV/AIDS patients for life-prolonging anti-retroviral drugs, in a new bid to fight the disease.


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