Adult HIV-1 incidence across 15 high-burden countries in sub-Saharan Africa from 2015 to 2019: A pooled analysis of nationally representative data



Harmonised population-based surveys with recent HIV-1 infection testing algorithms permit pooled cross-sectional estimation of HIV incidence across multiple countries. We aimed to estimate adult HIV-1 incidence rates and number of new infections by sex, age, and subregion in sub-Saharan Africa.


We analysed data from 13 Population-Based HIV Impact Assessment (PHIA) surveys and two additional population-based surveys done between 2015 and 2019 in 15 sub-Saharan African countries. HIV-seropositive samples from adults aged 15–59 years were tested for recent HIV-1 infection by use of an algorithm consisting of the HIV-1 limiting antigen avidity enzyme immunoassay, HIV-1 viral load, and qualitative detection of antiretroviral agents. Data were pooled across countries; sampling weights were incorporated to represent all adults in the 15 national populations. Analyses accounted for the complex sample designs. HIV incidence rates, incidence rate differences, and number of new annual infections were estimated.


Among 445 979 adults sampled, 382 had recent HIV-1 infection. The estimated HIV-1 incidence rate was 3·3 per 1000 person-years (95% CI 2·6–4·0) among women and 2·0 per 1000 person-years (1·2–2·7) among men (incidence rate difference 1·3 per 1000 person-years, 95% CI 0·3–2·3). Among adults aged 15–24 years, the incidence rate was higher for women (3·5 per 1000 person-years) than men (1·2 per 1000 person-years; difference 2·3, 95% CI 0·8–3·8), but infection rates were similar between sexes in all other age groups. The HIV-1 incidence rate was 7·4 per 1000 person-years (95% CI 5·0–9·7) in southern sub-Saharan Africa, 2·3 per 1000 person-years (1·7–2·9) in the eastern subregion, and 0·9 per 1000 person-years (0·6–1·2) in the western and central subregion. 689 000 (95% CI 546 000–833 000) new HIV cases were estimated annually among the 265 million susceptible adults (61·6% in women).


HIV-1 incidence and number of new infections differed by age, sex, and subregion. Approaches for risk stratification are needed to guide comprehensive HIV-1 prevention.


Rosenberg NE, Shook-Sa BE, Liu M, Stranix-Chibanda L, Yotebieng M, Sam-Agudu NA, Hudgens MG, Phiri SJ, Mutale W, Bekker LG, Moyo S, Zuma K, Charurat ME, Justman J, Chi BH




  • Epidemiology and Determinants of Health
    • Epidemiology
  • Population(s)
    • General HIV+ population


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