Kenya: Study Suggests Men on ARVs Succumb Earlier to HIV-Related Illnesses

A variety of antiretroviral drugs used to treat HIV infection (file photo).
22 January 2021

Findings of a study by a team of researchers indicates that Kenyan men on antiretroviral therapy (ART) succumbed earlier to HIV-related illnesses, compared to female patients.

Prof Lugman Hodgkinson, who led the study published in the journal Medicine in 2020, said survival was similar between men and women who began treatment as adolescents.

The deaths reported were recorded during the study period from July 2014 to March 2017.

Opportunistic infections, including tuberculosis and malaria in adults, were cited as the leading cause of death while diarrhoea was the cause of deaths in children.

The study was conducted in Kakamega County and focused on the 10-year survival for Kenyans with HIV on antiretroviral therapy.

The team discussed results of the study at the Kakamega County Teaching and Referral Hospital on Thursday.

Three models

Stanford University, Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology and Kakamega County were involved in the study.

"Results were 2020 finding that Kenyan men on antiretroviral therapy died much earlier than women. Survival was similar between men and women who began treatment as adolescents, however indicating that this gender difference in survival was due to behavioral factors," said Prof Lugman.

Some 1,360 patients took part in the research, with the team adopting three models of female adults, male children and male adults.

"The results of this study are quite interesting. From the study, we are able to find out how we can support our men and women so that they can live longer while receiving the therapy treatment for HIV," said Roseline Abwalaha, who took part in the study.

Inconclusive evidence

According to the study, evidence for why antiretroviral therapy outcomes differ by gender in developing countries remains inconclusive.

"In this first study to assess 10-year survival on ART in Kenya, our objective was to compare gender differences in survival for those who began ART as adults and as children.

"Kakamega County Referral Hospital (KCRH) is a tertiary rural hospital that has provided public ART to Kenyans since 2004. All patients enrolled for antiretroviral therapy at the County hospital who died between July 2004 and March 2017 and a sample of living patients were included in a survival analysis that bootstrapped sampled data," said Prof Lugman.

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