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International News
Kenya Sees Drop in HIV Prevalence

September 20, 2013

Preliminary Kenya AIDS Indicator Survey (KAIS) results showed that Kenya's overall HIV prevalence dropped from 7.2 percent in 2007 to 5.6 percent in 2012. Peter Cherutich, head of prevention for Kenya's National AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections Control Program, attributed the prevalence decrease to more HIV-infected people receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART). Early ART could reduce heterosexual HIV transmission by as much as 96 percent, according to recent studies.

Officials feared that these gains would not be sustainable unless Kenya reduced its reliance on donor funding. At present, more than 70 percent of HIV-infected Kenyans with a CD4 count of 350 or lower were on ART. The HIV virus was undetectable for 80 percent of those, which meant there was low risk of transmitting the virus.

Allan Ragi, executive director of the Kenya AIDS NGO Consortium, attributed Kenya's progress to the fact that government, donors, civil society, and HIV-infected people had worked together at all levels to put in place effective policies, messages, and interventions. Other HIV prevention efforts included mother-to-child prevention, medical male circumcision, and counseling and testing programs.

KAIS reported that approximately 1.2 million Kenyans had HIV, and HIV prevalence varied by gender and region. Overall prevalence among women was 6.9 percent, compared to 4.4 percent overall prevalence among men and 0.9 percent overall prevalence among children. The survey indicated "substantial" drops in the Coast, Nairobi, and Rift Valley regions, but recorded an overall prevalence increase in Nyanza region from 14.9 percent prevalence in 2007 to 15.1 percent in 2012.

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