Homa Bay has highest HIV rates, Wajir lowest – study

New study finds some African nations have five-fold disparities in numbers of people infected with HIV

In Summary

•Authors used data for 2017 to draw comparisons of HIV prevalence in different regions in Kenya. 

•There are more than 1.3 million people living with HIV in Kenya. 

A HIV test kit.
A HIV test kit.


Suba subcounty has the highest HIV prevalence while Tarbaj in Wajir has the lowest, a new study shows. 

The prevalence in Suba, in Homa Bay county, stands at 23 per cent, against a national prevalence of 5.6 per cent.

In Tarbaj, the prevalence is 0.7 per cent, a paper published yesterday in the Nature Journal shows.

The study found the largest number those aged between 15 and 49 and living with HIV reside in Nyatike constituency in Migori. 

The study was conducted by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington. It is the first study to comprehensively map HIV prevalence among adults aged between 15 and 49  at a subcounty level.

Authors used data for 2017 to draw comparisons of HIV prevalence in different regions. Nationally, the data shows that HIV-Aids was responsible for 48,503 deaths in 2017.

“Changing the trajectory of HIV-Aids in Africa requires that we continue to seek better ways to know the epidemic. This paper will support policymakers and health care providers in locating hotspots of HIV-Aids at national and subnational levels,” said Dr John Nkengasong, the director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

There are more than 1.3 million people living with HIV in Kenya. 

HIV prevalence rates vary tremendously at the county level. Homa Bay leads with 18.9 per cent, 14.3 per cent in Siaya, 13.2 per cent in Migori, 12.6 per cent in Kisumu, 7.4 per cent in Vihiga, 7.3 per cent in Kisii and 7.1 per cent in Busia.

These are followed by Nyamira (6.5 per cent), Kericho (6.2 per cent), Nairobi (5.7 per cent), Mombasa (5.1 per cent), Kakamega (5.4 per cent), Trans Nzoia (4.8 per cent), Kiambu (4.6 per cent), Kitui (4.1 per cent) and 4.1 per cent in Taita Taveta.

Others are Makueni at 3.7 per cent, Murang'a (3.3 per cent) and Wajir with the lowest level at 0.8 per cent.

Researchers also compared HIV prevalence in 47 African countries. 

The results show high variation in prevalence and changes in prevalence over time.

In East Africa, Uganda follows Kenya closely with a 5.5 per cent prevalence rate.

Tanzania recorded 3.9 per cent, South Sudan 1.3 per cent, Ethipia 0.9 per cent and 0.3 per cent in Somalia.

Countries in the southern part of the continent have higher rates of HIV prevalence, including Botswana (22.8 per cent), Lesotho (23.9 per cent), Eswatini (27.2 per cent), and South Africa (17.8 per cent).