Authors: Rejoice Nkambule, Neena M. Philip, Giles Reid, Zandile Mnisi †,Harriet Nuwagaba-Biribonwoha, Tony T. Ao, Choice Ginindza, Yen T. Duong, Hetal Patel, Suzue Saito, Chelsea Solmo, Kristin Brown, Chiara S. Moore, Andrew C. Voetsch, George Bicego, Naomi Bock, Fortune Mhlanga, Tengetile Dlamini, Khanya Mabuza, Amos Zwane, Ruben Sahabo, Trudy Dobbs, Bharat S. Parekh, Wafaa El-Sadr, Caroline Ryan, Jessica Justman
With the highest HIV incidence and prevalence globally, the government of Eswatini started a substantial scale-up of HIV treatment and prevention services in 2011. Two sequential large population-based surveys were conducted before and after service expansion to assess the impact of the national response. Cross-sectional, household-based, nationally representative samples of adults, ages 18 to 49 years, were sampled in 2011 and 2016. We measured HIV prevalence, incidence (recent infection based on limiting antigen ≤1.5 optical density units and HIV RNA ≥1000 copies/mL), viral load suppression (HIV RNA <1000 copies/mL among all seropositive adults) and unsuppressed viremia (HIV RNA ≥1000 copies/mL among all, regardless of HIV status) and assessed for temporal changes by conducting a trend analysis of the log ratio of proportions, using a Z statistic distribution. HIV prevalence remained stable from 2011 to 2016 [32% versus 30%, p = 0.10]. HIV incidence significantly declined 48% [2.48% versus 1.30%, p = 0.01]. Incidence remained higher among women than men [2011: 3.16% versus 1.83%; 2016: 1.76% versus 0.86%], with a smaller but significant relative reduction among women [44%; p = 0.04] than men [53%; p = 0.09]. The proportion of seropositive adults with viral load suppression significantly increased from 35% to 71% [p < .001]. The proportion of the total adult population with unsuppressed viremia decreased from 21% to 9% [p < .001]. National HIV incidence in Eswatini decreased by nearly half and viral load suppression doubled over a five-year period. Unsuppressed viremia in the total population decreased 58%. These population-based findings demonstrate the national impact of expanded HIV services in a hyperendemic country.