Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) Prevalence among Catha edulis forsk (Miraa) Users in Meru Region, Kenya
Njue, James Kinoti
MetadataShow full item record
Khat or miraa (Catha edulis Forsk (Celastraceae) chewing is known to be a widespread habit in among selected communities in Kenya. Since HIV/AIDS was declared a national disaster in Kenya in 1999, the disease has become an obstacle to both health and development of the people. Nevertheless, the use of substance including C. edulis has dramatically increased despite the serious concern on control of HIV infection. This study was aimed at determining the HIV prevalence and impact of C. edulis chewing and social-demographic, knowledge, behavioral as risk factors to HIV infections and possible effects to CD4 and viral load counts among residents of Nyambene region of Meru County. A cross-sectional study was conducted among 267 individuals aged above15 years in the region during the period of May-December 2012. Data was collected using structured questionnaire and blood drawn from consenting participants. HIV status was determined by use of rapid tests; Determine and confirmed by ELISA test. CD4 and viral load counts were monitored (3months) for all HIV positive participants. The study established that the general HIV prevalence was 7.9% with women (8.1%) being affected more than men (7.6%) though not significant (p=0.019). Risk behaviours for HIV infection like C. edulis use were more observed among women engaged in Catha edulis business than men though not significant (p=1.468). Lack of knowledge on HIV transmission and prevention methods were associated with HIV status despite the high awareness of the disease. However there was significant difference on education level and breast feeding (p = 0.001), pregnancy (p=0.017) and HIV transmission during delivery (p=0.039). Most participants relied on radio as a source of information on HIV/AIDS which varied significantly with their education level (p = 0.001) and in HIV-TB co infection (p=0.005). There was significant difference on first CD4 count and the second, three months after (p = 0.001) unlike in viral load counts (p = 0.396). C. edulis use is risk behaviour for the spread of HIV infection. Ignorance, lack of knowledge and engagement into multiple sex partners predisposes people to risk of contracting HIV infection.