Kenya is recording a disproportionate number of AIDS-related deaths among men despite achieving remarkable progress in reducing new HIV infections over the past ten years.
According to the World AIDS day report 2023 authored by the National Syndemic Diseases Control Council, despite constituting just 35% of all people living with HIV in 2022, men experienced a higher share of the burden, accounting for 48% (8,796) of the total AIDS-related deaths.
“The number of AIDS related deaths have declined significantly with the introduction of Antiretroviral Therapy. Between 2013 and 2022, there was a decline by 68% from 58,446 to 18,743. A significant portion of AIDS-related deaths (54%) took place among people aged 30–54 years. Notably, there exists a disproportionate burden of AIDS-related mortality among men in Kenya.” Notes the report.
According to the report, approximately 3,341 men aged 45 years and above died of AIDS-related illnesses in 2022 despite the country recording lower HIV prevalence among men (2.6% compared to 5.3% among women.)
This despite the country witnessing a significant decline in AIDS related deaths, with the introduction of Antiretroviral Therapy, recording a decline of 68% from 58,446 to 18,743 between 2013 and 2022.
The report attributes the state of affairs in part to men health seeking behavior further exacerbated by associated stigma that has seen men keep off getting tested besides interruption of treatment among those aware of their status.
“In 2022, out of the 1,294,339-people living with HIV on Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) in Kenya, 10.4% interrupted their treatment. Among those who had treatment interruption, 6% (8,183) of the 134,611 clients unfortunately succumbed.” Reads the report which was released during celebrations to mark this year’s World Aids Day.
According to the report, to address the challenge of people presenting with advanced HIV disease due to late diagnosis and treatment interruption, a comprehensive approach that encompasses medical, social, and structural interventions is essential.
Among the proposals include encouraging routine HIV testing and early diagnosis, investing in scale up peer to peer robust adherence support, targeted interventions to address barriers such as stigma, discrimination, treatment illiteracy and Use data-driven approaches to target interventions and strengthen real time monitoring and surveillance systems to identify trends in treatment interruptions and deaths.
Kenya ranks seventh globally in the population of people living with HIV, and as of the end of 2022, 94% of them were receiving life-saving antiretroviral therapy. The country also has the eighth highest estimated numbers of AIDS-related deaths globally in 2022.