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Women living with HIV in Kenya twice as many as men – survey

About 1.3 million adults in Kenya are living with HIV/Aids, an estimated 4.9 percent of those aged between 15 to 64 years old, according to a new survey.

The HIV prevalence was found to be highest among women, at 6.6 percent, compared to men at 3.1 percent.

The findings of the Kenya Population-based HIV Impact Assessment (Kenphia) 2018 were released on Thursday in Nairobi by the Health ministry.

The worst-hit counties with over six percent prevalence are in western and northern Kenya. They are Homa Bay (19.6 percent), Kisumu (17.5 percent), Siaya (15.3 percent), Migori (13 percent), Busia (9.9 percent), Turkana (6.8 percent) and Kisii with a prevalence rate of 6.1 percent.

The report says the number of people living with HIV has plateaued, meaning that those with the virus are living longer, while new infections per year have reduced since 2012.

Annual new infections among adults was 0.14 percent, about 36,000 new incidences per year.

The survey, conducted between June 2018 and February 2019 and involving 17,000 households, found that there are about 139,000 children living with HIV in Kenya.

Of these children under 14 years, 79 percent of them have a parent or guardian with a known HIV-positive status. Ninety-three percent of the affected children are on anti-retroviral therapy (ART) and 67.1 percent have achieved viral load suppression.

“Kenphia 2018 is timely as it will define the next phase of Kenya’s HIV Response. We are committed, as a government, to continue the path towards HIV epidemic control as a means of achieving universal health coverage,” said Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki.

The report was done by US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and ICAP at Columbia University (ICAP) with support from the Ministry of Health and financial backing of several stakeholders, including US President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (Pepfar), and the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Global Fund).

“The Kenphia report shows us that 72 percent of all adults living with HIV in Kenya have suppressed HIV viral load, which is promising as we know that those with sustained viral load suppression pose effectively no risk of transmission to sexual partners. While this is good news, there is more work to be done,” said CDC Kenya Country Director, Dr Marc Bulterys.

“CDC looks forward to working with Kenya and partners to further the gains made towards achieving HIV epidemic control and addressing the gaps that remain.”

Part of the global HIV goals include the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/Aids (UNAids) ‘90-90-90’ targets which aims to ensure 90 percent of people living with HIV know their status, 90 percent of those diagnosed are on treatment, and 90 percent on treatment achieve viral load suppression.

In Kenya, 80 percent of adults living with HIV are aware of their diagnosis, 96 percent of those are on ART, and 91 percent of those on treatment have achieved viral load suppression. This means the country has met the second and third ‘90-90-90’ goals.

By The Eastafrican

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