Two-fold increase in the HIV viral load suppression rate along with decreased incidence over six years in Ndhiwa sub-county, Kenya.

Conan N Badawi M Chihana ML Wanjala S Kingwara L Mambula C Ngugi C Okomo G Opollo V Salumu L Nesbitt R Szumilin E Huerga H
Tropical medicine & international health : TM & IH 2021 Oct 12; doi: 10.1111/tmi.13688. Epub 2021 10 12
ART HIV care HIV diagnosis incidence prevalence viral load


BACKGROUND: HIV-positive individuals who maintain an undetectable viral load cannot transmit the virus to others. In 2012, an HIV population-based survey was conducted in Ndhiwa sub-County (Kenya) to provide information on the HIV local epidemic. We carried out a second survey 6 years after the first one, to assess progress in HIV diagnosis and care and differences in the HIV prevalence and incidence between the two surveys.

METHODS: A cross-sectional, population-based survey using cluster sampling and geospatial random selection was implemented in 2018, using the same design as 2012. Consenting participants aged 15-59 years were interviewed and tested for HIV at home. HIV-positive individuals received viral load testing (viral suppression defined as <1000 copies/mL) and Lag-Avidity EIA assay (to measure recent infection). The 90-90-90 UNAIDS indicators were also assessed.

RESULTS: Overall, 6,029 individuals were included in 2018. HIV prevalence was 16.9%. Viral suppression among all HIV-positive was 88.3% in 2018 (versus 39.9% in 2012, p<0.001). HIV incidence was 0.75% in 2018 versus 1.90% in 2012 (p=0.07). In 2018, the 90-90-90 indicators were: 93%-97%-95% (versus 60%-68%-83% in 2012).

CONCLUSION: A two-fold increase in the HIV viral load suppression rate along with a decreasing trend in incidence was observed over six years in Ndhiwa sub-county. Achieving high rates of viral suppression in HIV populations that can lead to reducing HIV transmission in sub-Saharan contexts is feasible. Nevertheless, we will need further efforts to sustain this progress.

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