HIV prevalence in Kenya increased to 7.8% in 2007, a slight increase from the 6.7% prevalence recorded in 2003, according to a survey released by the government on Tuesday, the Associated Press reports. According to the Associated Press, the increase in the percentage of the population living with HIV likely is because of wider access to antiretroviral drugs.
The survey, titled "2007 Kenya AIDS Indicator Survey," was conducted by several organizations, including CDC, the World Health Organization and the Kenya Medical and Research Institute (Associated Press, 7/29). The survey cost about 400 million Kenyan shillings, or about $6 million, Kenya's Daily Nation reports (Gathura/Okwemba, Daily Nation, 7/29). The survey is based on tests conducted among 18,000 people between ages 15 and 64 for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections from August 2007 to May 2008 (Associated Press, 7/29).
According to the survey, about 1.4 million Kenyan adults are living with HIV/AIDS. In addition, four out of every five HIV-positive Kenyans are unaware of their status, and about two-thirds of the country's 37 million people have never been tested for the virus, the survey found. Fifty-seven percent of HIV-positive people reported that they had never taken an HIV test, and 26% said they were HIV-negative but later tested positive. Ibrahim Mohammed, chief of Kenya's National AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infection Control Program, said that 16% of those tested did not want to know their status, 14% were unaware of the HIV test or where to receive one and 5% indicated that distance to testing clinics was a "major barrier" (AFP/Google.com, 7/29). Mohammed added that three out of five HIV-positive people are women and that uncircumcised men are three to five times more likely to contract the virus, compared with circumcised men.
Prime Minister Raila Odinga said the survey's finding that 50% of Kenyans used condoms and only 20% used a condom during their last sexual encounter is "alarming," the Associated Press reports. "There are now nearly 1.5 million Kenyans living with [the virus]. ... This is nothing less than a national crisis," Odinga said. He added, "The only way to reverse this epidemic is through prevention" (Associated Press, 7/29). Kenya's Health Minister Beth Mugo said, "We have made notable progress; however, HIV/AIDS rates among our families and communities remains unacceptably high and the impact severe" (AFP/Google.com, 7/29).