Why thousands are not on HIV treatment

Some 1.4 million people are infected with HIV
Some 779,900 Kenyans living with HIV are not on any form of treatment, according to the Kenya Aids Response Progress Report 2018. 

Some 1.4 million people are infected with the virus. In 2010, some 627,900 adults aged 15 and above needed anti-retroviral treatment (ART). This number grew to 1,338,200 in 2017, according to the report.

“Even so, it is important to note that the guidelines have changed over time to currently ‘treat all’ irrespective of CD4 counts or per cent,” the report reads.

CD4 count is a test to measure the amount of CD4 cells, a type of white blood cells, in the body. These are the cells that HIV attacks. The lower the CD4 count, the higher the chances of transmission.

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Among the 779,900 who are not yet on treatment include 18,900 children aged 14 years and below, 151,100 are women above the age of 15 and 201,500 men above 15 years.

The report by National Aids Control Council (NACC) notes that the need for ART has increased both due to changes in treatment guidelines, as well as the increase in the number of people living with HIV over time.

In the past 14 years, the report notes, the number of people receiving treatment has also increased dramatically, reaching 1,121,938 by end of 2017. These are 1,035,615 adults and 86,323 children.

This has resulted in an estimated treatment coverage of 75 per cent among adults (84 per cent among children) in 2017.

“In future, the need for treatment will only decrease if Kenya manages to scale up prevention and treatment to levels which results in fewer new HIV infections than the deaths among people living with HIV per year,” the report advises.

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According to the figures, there were 28,200 deaths as a result of HIV/AIDS complications in 2017. Of these, 13,200 were male above the age of 15 with 10,100 women of the same age.

Some 4,300 children under the age of 14 died in the same period. There are 864,600 women (above 15 years) living with the virus compared to 523,600 men. Some 105,200 children (under 14 years) are living with the virus, which has been largely attributed to mother to child transmission.

The report notes that while the number of HIV-positive pregnant women in need of prevention of mother to child transmission services in 2010 was 73,800. Last year, the figure stood at 69,500.

The decrease in the number of HIV positive pregnant women was partly attributed to reduced transmission in young women.

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HIV/AIDSHIV PrevalenceHIV Treatment