Data Hub

Kenya's HIV incidence falls but remains highest in East Africa


The proportion of people living with HIV/Aids has declined over the years but Kenya has the highest prevalence in the East African region.

There is also considerable difference across counties with some more seriously affected than others.

The latest study shows that the HIV incidence has declined to 5.6 percent, compared to 8.9 per cent in 2000 following increased usage of antiretroviral therapy (ART). Even then more than a third of those infected are still not under ART.

The study, which the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) conducted at the University of Washington, indicates that 48,503 Kenyans died of Aids in 2017.

Kenya’s 5.6 per cent HIV prevalence is the highest in the East African Community, according to the report.

Uganda is second in the region at 5.5 percent of the population, Tanzania 3.9 percent and South Sudan at 1.3 percent. In the larger eastern Africa, Somalia has the lowest prevalence at 0.3 percent followed by Ethiopia at 0.9 percent.

The data reveals tremendous differences in the epidemic’s severity across counties and constituencies.

Despite the rapid increase in the use of ARTs, 34 percent of people infected in east and southern Africa and 60 percent of people in the west and central Africa are not receiving any treatment.

The prevalence of the virus is more severe in western Kenya counties, especially in the Lake Victoria region.

At the county level, Homa Bay leads with 18.9 percent prevalence, 14.3 percent in Siaya, 13.2 percent in Migori and 12.6 percent in Kisumu.

Vihiga has a 7.4 percent preva­lence, 7.3 percent in Kisii, 7.1 percent in Busia, 6.5 percent in Nyamira, 6.2 percent in Kericho, 5.7 percent in Nairobi and 5.1 percent in Mombasa.

Others are Kakamega at 5.4 percent, 4.8 percent in Trans Nzoia, 4.6 percent in Kiambu, 4.1 percent in Kitui, 4.1 percent in Taita Taveta, 3.7 percent in Makueni 3.3 in Muranga and the lowest at 0.80 percent in Wajir.

The highest HIV prevalence in Kenya in 2017 was 23 percent recorded in Suba, Homa Bay.

The low­est was 0.7 percent in Tarbaj Constituency in Wajir. The largest number of people aged 15-49 living with HIV — more than 21,000 peo­ple — reside in Nyatike Constituency, Migori County.

In the continent, the report points out that countries in the southern Africa region have the highest prevalence of HIV with Botswana leading the pack at 22.8 percent.

It is followed by Lesotho at 23.9 percent, Eswatini at 27.2 percent and South Africa at 17.8 percent.

De­spite the rapid scale up of ART since 2000, HIV/Aids is still the most common cause of death in sub-Saharan Africa, according to data from the Global Burden of Disease.

“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 healthcare providers in locating hotspots of HIV/Aids at national and subnational levels.

“It will help guide smart investment of scarce resources for diagnosis, prevention and treatment,” said John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

Since 2015, the World Health Organisation has recommended ART for all people living with HIV, as early treatment enables them to live longer and healthier lives and reduces the potential for transmitting the virus.

Growing population size and continued high incidence of HIV infection, combined with increased life expectancy among people living with HIV, has led to their increase in sub-Saharan Africa.

Between 2000 and 2017, the number of people aged 15-49 living with the virus in sub-Saharan Africa increased by three million, even as HIV prevalence declined.