Kenya will have to scale, scale, scale to meet 90-90-90 targets

Progress in reversing the HIV epidemic through intensified access to antiretroviral therapy: results from a nationally representative population-based survey in Kenya, 2012.

Kim AA, Mukui I, N'Gan'ga L, Katana A, Koros D, Wamicwe J, De Cock KM, KAIS Study Group. PLoS One. 2016 Mar 1;11(3):e0148068. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0148068. eCollection 2016.

Background: In 2014, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) called for 90% of people living with HIV (PLHIV) to know their status, 90% of these to be on antiretroviral therapy (ART), and 90% of these to be virally suppressed by 2020 (90-90-90). It is not clear whether planned ART scale-up in countries whose eligibility criteria for ART initiation are based on recommendations from the 2013 World Health Organization treatment guidelines will be sufficient to meet UNAIDS' new global targets.

Materials and methods: Using data from a nationally representative population-based household survey of persons in Kenya we compared coverage and unmet need associated with HIV diagnosis, ART, and viral suppression among PLHIV aged 15-64 years in 2012 based on criteria outlined in the 2014 national ART guidelines and UNAIDS' 90-90-90 goals. Estimates were weighted to account for sampling probability and nonresponse.

Results: Eight in ten PLHIV aged 15-64 years needed ART based on treatment eligibility. Need for treatment based on the national treatment policy was 97.4% of treatment need based on UNAIDS' 90-90-90 goals, requiring an excess of 24 000 PLHIV to access treatment beyond those eligible for ART to achieve UNAIDS' 90-90-90 treatment target. The gap in treatment coverage was high, ranging from 43.1% nationally to 52.3% in Nyanza among treatment-eligible PLHIV and 44.6% nationally to 52.4% in Nyanza among all PLHIV.

Conclusion: Maintaining the current pace of ART scale-up in Kenya will result in thousands of PLHIV unreached, many with high viral load and at-risk of transmitting infection to others. Careful strategies for reaching 90-90-90 will be instrumental in determining whether intensified access to treatment can be achieved to reach all who require ART.

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Editor’s notes: The HIV field is pushing for aggressive scale-up of programmes to stem the HIV epidemic. In this regard, UNAIDS launched the 90-90-90 targets to motivate countries to increase awareness, testing and treatment of people living with HIV. This paper presents an analysis of data collected through the last national Kenya AIDS Indicator Survey (KAIS) which examines the number of people reached with testing and treatment in 2012 as compared with the 90-90-90 targets which the country adopted in 2014. The analysis illustrates that the scale up of testing and treatment will need to dramatically increase to meet the targets. The paper notes the importance of strategizing how best to reach the populations most affected. In Kenya’s case, a geographic approach to scaling up in higher incidence areas is now being implemented. Within the geographical approach, strategies include testing family members of people living with HIV, and community-based testing strategies (such as home-based testing and counselling and self-testing), delivered in settings with high HIV prevalence. Analyses such as the one presented in this paper can help other countries in similar situations to review how best to apply limited resources in order to meet targets. 

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