‘83% HIV+ Kenyans suppress virus’

Researcher Thumbi Ndung’u and UoN’s Louise Achieng address the media in Nairobi /JOHN MUCHANGI
Researcher Thumbi Ndung’u and UoN’s Louise Achieng address the media in Nairobi /JOHN MUCHANGI

A growing number of HIV-positive Kenyans have managed to suppress the virus to undetectable levels using antiretroviral drugs.

Acting medical services director Jackson Kioko said this raises hopes the pandemic may soon be controlled. He said the risk of such people transmitting HIV is negligible.

Kioko said HIV cohort studies show Kenya’s viral load suppression rates are “in the range of 83 per cent”. This means Kenya has some of the highest viral suppression rates in the world – better than some western countries.

While those who reach viral suppression levels are not cured, the amount of HIV in the blood is extremely low and such people live longer and are less likely to transmit the virus to others.

“However, the suppression rates for children and adolescents are a challenge at 69 per cent and 63 per cent. We must do more in this area,” Kioko said in Nairobi at the ongoing HIV conference organised by the National Aids and STIs Control Programme.

At least 1.6 million Kenyans are living with HIV and 950,000 are on ARVs. In May this year, another study showed 73·9 per cent of all HIV-positive Kenyans on ART had viral suppression. The study titled ‘Detectable HIV Viral Load in Kenya: Data from a Population-Based Survey’ showed the viral load was higher among the young and those not taking ARVs.