Factors associated with newly diagnosed HIV infections among young adults aged 15–24 years attending a rural County Referral Hospital - Kenya, 2018

  • Viral hepatitis and HIV
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In 2017, about 2.7 million people aged 15–24 years were living with HIV globally, 430,000 of them being new infections. In Kenya, this age group accounted for 40% of all new HIV infections nationally and 48% of new HIV infections in Siaya County in 2017. Drivers of these new infections are not well known. We determined socio-demographic and behavioral factors associated with new HIV infections among young adults to guide evidence-based interventions.

We conducted an unmatched case-control study at a ratio of 1:2 at Siaya County Referral Hospital in August 2018. A case was HIV positive person aged 15–24 years diagnosed in May–July 2018, control was HIV negative youth tested in the same period. Socio-demographic and behavioral information was obtained using a structured questionnaire. Univariate and multivariate analyses were performed to identify factors associated with newly diagnosed HIV infections. The findings were shared with policymakers.

We enrolled 59 cases and 118 controls; the Mean age was 19.3 years (SD±3.0) among cases and 20.6 years (SD±2.5) among controls. Cases median age at sexual debut was 15 years (Interquartile Range, IQR: 11) and 18 years (IQR: 17) among controls. There were 43 females (72.9%) among cases and 63 (53.4%) among controls. Being female (aOR=2.72, 95% CI: 1.09–6.74), belonging to age-group 15–19 years (aOR=3.50, 95% CI: 1.42–8.65), being an orphan (aOR= 3.09, 95% CI: 1.32 – 7.19), early sexual debut (<15yrs) (aOR=3.24, 95% CI: 1.12–9.40) and being unaware of partners status (aOR=2.34,95% CI: 1.01–5.41) were independently associated with newly diagnosed HIV infection. School health talks to sensitize the school going teens on HIV/AIDS were conducted.

Being orphaned, early sexual debut, and lack of knowledge of partners’ HIV status were drivers of new infections. Targeted health promotion programming campaigns could help reduce HIV incidence among young adults.

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