Kenya has unveiled a new strategy to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS that will specifically target the most at risk populations in the country, including male and female sex workers and intravenous drug users in Nairobi.

Recent studies show that sex workers and homosexuals account for almost 30 per cent of all new infections in Kenya. Difficulties have arisen treating these populations in the past because their activities are considered illegal under Kenyan law and are subject to long prison terms.

The aim of the programme is to reduce new infections by at least 50 per cent over the next four years and AIDS related mortality by 25 per cent. These targets will only be achieved, said Alloys Orago, director of the National AIDS Control Council, by putting the most vulnerable people at the centre of HIV programmes and prevention strategies.

It is estimated that 1.2 million Kenyans are infected with HIV/AIDS and a further 166,000 become infected with HIV every year, 34,000 of whom are infants.