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Survey on prevalence and risk factors on HIV-1 among pregnant women in North-Rift, Kenya: a hospital based cross-sectional study conducted between 2005 and 2006

Michael Kiptoo12*, Solomon Mpoke34, Zipporah Ng'ang'a3, Jones Mueke2, Fredrick Okoth1 and Elijah Songok123

Author affiliations

1 Centre for Virus Research, Kenya Medical Research Institute, Nairobi, Kenya

2 Department of Zoological Sciences, Kenyatta University, Nairobi, Kenya

3 Department of Medical Laboratory Sciences, Institute of Tropical Medicine and Infectious Disease, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Nairobi, Kenya

4 Centre for Biotechnology Research & Development, Kenya Medical Research Institute, Nairobi, Kenya

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Citation and License

BMC International Health and Human Rights 2009, 9:10  doi:10.1186/1472-698X-9-10

Published: 30 April 2009



The HIV/AIDS epidemic in Kenya is a major public-health problem. Estimating the prevalence of HIV in pregnant women provides essential information for an effective implementation of HIV/AIDS control measures and monitoring of HIV spread within a country. The objective of this study was to determine the prevalence of HIV infection, risk factors for HIV/AIDS and immunologic (lymphocyte profile) characteristics among pregnant women attending antenatal clinics in three district hospitals in North-Rift, Kenya.


Blood samples were collected from pregnant women attending antenatal clinics in three district hospitals (Kitale, Kapsabet and Nandi Hills) after informed consent and pre-test counseling. The samples were tested for HIV antibodies as per the guidelines laid down by Ministry of Health, Kenya. A structured pretested questionnaire was used to obtain demographic data. Lymphocyte subset counts were quantified by standard flow cytometry.


Of the 4638 pregnant women tested, 309 (6.7%) were HIV seropositive. The majority (85.1%) of the antenatal attendees did not know their HIV status prior to visiting the clinic for antenatal care. The highest proportion of HIV infected women was in the age group 21–25 years (35.5%). The 31–35 age group had the highest (8.5%) HIV prevalence, while women aged more than 35 years had the lowest (2.5%).

Women in a polygamous relationship were significantly more likely to be HIV infected as compared to those in a monogamous relationship (p = 0.000). The highest HIV prevalence (6.3%) was recorded among antenatal attendees who had attended secondary schools followed by those with primary and tertiary level of education (6% and 5% respectively). However, there was no significant relationship between HIV seropositivity and the level of education (p = 0.653 and p = 0.469 for secondary and tertiary respectively). The mean CD4 count was 466 cells/mm3 (9–2000 cells/mm3). Those that had less than 200 cells/mm3 accounted for 14% and only nine were on antiretroviral therapy.


Seroprevalence of HIV was found to be consistent with the reports from the national HIV sentinel surveys. Enumeration of T-lymphocyte (CD4/8) should be carried out routinely in the antenatal clinics for proper timing of initiation of antiretroviral therapy among HIV infected pregnant women.