U.S. Ambassador to Kenya Robert F. Godec Helps Launch AIDS Survey Report

U.S. Ambassador to Kenya Robert F. Godec joined Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Health Honorable James Macharia on June 25, to launch the final report of the 2012 Kenya AIDS Indicator Survey (KAIS 2012) and Kenya’s revised HIV treatment guidelines.

The 2012 survey was Kenya’s second national survey which provides Kenya with the information it needs to make policy decisions about its HIV response.  The data helps Kenya determine how its HIV programs are having an impact on preventing HIV infections, ensuring people with HIV learn of their status, and providing care and treatment to people with HIV.

The survey showed that, in 2012, 5.6% of Kenyans aged 15-64 years were infected with HIV.  This means that approximately 1.2 million Kenyans have HIV.  The 2012 survey was the first to include children under age 14 and found that 0.9% of children aged 18 months-14 years were infected with HIV.

With this information, the government of Kenya was able to make a decision about adopting the World Health Organization’s 2013 guidelines for treating persons with HIV.  The government released its new guidelines which expands the persons eligible for antiretroviral treatment.  People with HIV will be able to begin treatment when they are healthier.

The revised guidelines also recommend that lifelong antiretroviral treatment be offered to all HIV-infected women who are pregnant or breastfeeding; this will reduce the risk of transmitting HIV to their children and improve their own health.  In addition, antiretroviral treatment is recommended for persons with HIV who are in a discordant couple, meaning that one partner is HIV-negative and the other partner is HIV-positive.  Studies have shown that treatment of an HIV infected partner reduces the likelihood of passing HIV to the uninfected partner. KAIS 2012 found that 5% of all married or cohabiting couples in Kenya are HIV discordant, so treatment is an important strategy for preventing new infections and reducing the burden of HIV in Kenya.

The United States provided support for the survey through funding from the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and expertise of U.S. government agencies.  The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) helped Kenya’s Ministry of Health plan and implement KAIS 2012.  CDC provided technical support in designing the questionnaire, developing guidance for conducting the survey, supporting the laboratory component in collaboration with Kenya’s National HIV Reference Laboratory (NHRL), and analyzing the data.  The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) provided supplies for the field and central laboratories to analyze the blood collected during the survey and, along with CDC, contributed to the development of the revised HIV treatment guidelines.