CUT BY NEARLY HALF

ARVs to thank for sharp decline in new HIV infections — study

About 36,000 adults were infected with HIV in 2018, compared to about 52, 800 newly infected people the previous year.

In Summary

• At least 71.6 per cent of all HIV positive adults taking antiretroviral drugs have achieved viral suppression, which means they cannot infect anyone, even in unprotected sex.

• The preliminary results of the Kenya Population-based HIV Impact Assessment (KENPHIA) 2018 survey were released by the Ministry of Health in Nairobi yesterday. 

Kitui chief officer for health Dr. Richard Muthoka being tested for HIV during the launch of the Kenphia study in 2018. Photo by Musembi Nzengu
Kitui chief officer for health Dr. Richard Muthoka being tested for HIV during the launch of the Kenphia study in 2018. Photo by Musembi Nzengu

Kenya has cut new HIV infections by nearly half since 2017, a survey released Thursday shows. 

About 36,000 adults were infected with HIV in 2018, compared to about 52,800 newly-infected people in 2017 and 101,560 in 2013. 

The sharp reduction was attributed to the use of prevention tools like condoms and high viral suppression levels among those infected.

 
 
 

Viral suppression was achieved by 71.6 per cent of all HIV positive adults taking antiretroviral drugs, which means they cannot infect anyone, even in unprotected sex.

The preliminary results of the Kenya Population-based HIV Impact Assessment (KENPHIA) 2018 survey were released by the Ministry of Health in Nairobi, after a year-long delay. 

The report shows the country is finally achieving controllable levels of the HIV epidemic. 

The prevalence of HIV — the share of adults aged 15-64 years living with the virus — remained at 4.9 per cent, the same as the 2017 level.

The HIV incidence — the rate of adults who contract the disease annually — fell from 0.19 per cent in 2017 to 0.14 per cent today. 

"As we move forward towards UHC, our commitment shall be that every Kenyan will get the opportunity to be tested for HIV and that every HIV-positive Kenyan will get access to treatment," Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki said in a statement. 

The number of adults living with HIV fell to 1.3 million,  the Kenphia report showed.  At least 139,000 children have the virus. 

In 2017, a total of 1.5 million Kenyans were living with HIV, according to the Kenya HIV Estimates Report 2018 produced by the National Aids Control Council. 

More women than men are living with HIV. 

"Today we also learned from Kenphia that the prevalence of HIV in women is at 6.6 per cent, twice that in men at 3.1 per cent. This gender disparity in the burden of HIV is even greater than three times in between the ages of 20-34 years," said Health Chief Administrative Secretary Rashid Aman, who was the chief guest at the event yesterday.

The top five HIV high-prevalence counties are Homa Bay (19.6 per cent) , Kisumu (17.5 per cent), Siaya (15.3 per cent), Migori (13 per cent) and Busia (9.9 per cent).

The prevalence was lowest (less than 2.0 per cent) in nine counties (Samburu (1.9 per cent), Tana River (1.1 per cent), Garissa (0.1 per cent), Wajir (0.2 per cent), Mandera (0.2 per cent), Marsabit (1.2 per cent), Kiambu (1.1 per cent), West Pokot (1.3 per cent), and Baringo (1.8 per cent).

"However, more attention needs to be paid to the counties that have an emerging epidemic as evidenced by the consistent rise in their HIV burden. These counties include Turkana at 6.8 per cent and Kisii at 6.1 per cent prevalence," Rashid said. 

Kenphia was conducted between June 2018 and February 2019 and was funded by the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.

"It enables us to evaluate our accomplishments and better understand the impact of HIV programs and investments to refine Kenya’s response to the epidemic," said US ambassabor Kyle McCarter.