Both the number of people living with HIV and the number of new annual infections have fallen in Kenya, aidsmap reports. Publishing their findings in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes, researchers conducted an analysis of data from the Kenya AIDS Indicator Survey (KAIS) to measure changes in the nation’s HIV epidemic.

Kenya has the fourth-largest HIV epidemic in the world, with an estimated 1.6 million people living with the virus out of a population of 40 million.

The KAIS was a cross-section household survey, conducted in 2007 and 2012, of people living in nine Kenyan regions. In addition to completing surveys, the participants provided blood samples that were tested for HIV.

The researchers’ analysis looked at those survey participants who were between 15 and 64 years old—11,626 people in all. They calculated that Kenya’s 2007 HIV prevalence rate of 7.2 percent (a figure that excludes the northeastern region of the country) dropped to 5.6 percent in 2012. This was a statistically significant change, meaning that the difference in the data is unlikely to be the result of chance. The rate of new HIV infections also dropped significantly during the same time frame, from 0.7 percent to 0.4 percent.

The study’s authors attribute this apparent turnaround in the hard-hit nation’s epidemic to improved methods of linking people with HIV into health care as well as the growing use of antiretrovirals in the country. A fully suppressed viral load has been shown to reduce the likelihood of transmission by 96 percent.
To read the study abstract, click here.

To read the aidsmap story, click here.