Kenya: Ministry to Roll Out Three-Step Strategy For HIV Testing 1

Kenya: Ministry to Roll Out Three-Step Strategy For HIV Testing

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NASCOP director Dr Rose Wafula has shared that they are moving forward to implement an HIV three-step test strategy recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO). The latter recommends a three-test strategy when the country’s HIV prevalence drops below 5%. The first rollout will begin in the first week of July. The country’s HIV prevalence is currently at 4.9%.

Dr Wafula shared, “We are therefore changing the current two-test strategy and algorithm and adopting the three-test strategy in line with WHO recommendations,”

You can only tell you have HIV after three consecutive positive tests in the three-test strategy. The modelling by WHO shows that the chances of having false positive results are dependent on how common HIV is in the community. Although false positive results are not common, they are likely in settings where a lower number of people have HIV which is why more confirmation tests are required as the prevalence drops.

Kenya: Ministry to Roll Out Three-Step Strategy For HIV Testing 2

Dr Wafula shared that they have grouped 47 counties into five clusters. She shared, “We don’t want to waste the test kits that are already there so we will have a phased approach. We tell them to complete the use of the old kits for the old algorithm before we embark on the new approach. Region one is the arid and semi-arid land (Asal) counties. By July we will fully move into the new algorithm.”

Once the rollout is complete, Kenyans who test for HIV will have three blood tests that work in slightly different ways. If one is told that they are HIV-positive or negative after the three tests, you can be confident that that’s the case.

Health PS Harry Kimtai revealed that Kenya ranks among the first ten countries that follow WHO’s directive to take on the three-test algorithm. In the latest statement, the PS said,  “Following a stringent process for adopting WHO protocol to the country by a stakeholder task force, Kenya is among the first 10 countries transitioning to the three test algorithm for HIV diagnosis,”

Kimtai said the WHO highlights protocols where three different test kits are used for HIV diagnosis. “The three-test algorithm marks a pivotal advancement in diagnostic accuracy, which is critical in Kenya’s fight against HIV-Aids, underscoring the ministry’s dedication to the health and well-being of citizens.”

Kenya ranks as the seventh largest HIV epidemic globally, with an estimated 1.4 million people living with the virus. By the end of 2023, an average of 1,336,234 people were being treated at 3,752 facilities countrywide.

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