ZIMBABWE will soon start rolling out pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) medication in selected districts in the country after adopting World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines on HIV treatment and prevention.
PrEP is meant for people who do not have HIV, but are at substantial risk of getting it.Such people take a pill everyday to prevent infection. However this may be very trick to distuingish as many people are likely to abuse the facility.
The pill (brand name Truvada) contains two medicines (tenofovir and emtricitabine) that are used in combination with other medicines to treat HIV and most youths who have often used the morning after pills to avoid pregnancy are likely going tp be the largest consumers of the post.
The country joined the global community last Thursday when it announced that AIDS-related deaths had declined by 77 percent in the last decade as the country moves towards ending AIDS by 2030.
In an interview, the Ministry of Health and Child Care’s AIDS and TB Unit advocacy and communications officer, Mr Brian Nachipo, said PrEP would be given to people at risk of getting HIV who include sex workers.
“The national guidelines also entail that we test and treat anyone found to be HIV positive unlike in the old days when we initiated ART only on people whose CD4 count was less than 400. We have also started rolling out HIV self-test kits in a few districts.”
Mr Nachipo said after the pilot sites, the Government would roll out PrEP after gathering evidence that there is adherence and that it can be used nationally to combat HIV.
“We are very excited about PrEP and we hope that people will make use of such scientifically proven interventions to prevent and treat HIV. At the same time, we encourage people to use condoms and be on their best behaviour since no intervention is 100 percent perfect,” he said.
Dr Nyaradzo Mmgodi, the programme director of the University of Zimbabwe-University Of California San Francisco Collaborative Research Programme, says PrEP is like the anti-malaria tablets that people take before visiting mosquito-infested areas like Binga and Kariba to protect themselves from malaria.
“In prevention of mother to child transmission, we give medication to the child who is exposed to HIV because the mother is infected,” said Dr Mmgodi.
“So in PrEP we speak of the vaginal ring, injectables and tablets generally.
“We carried out a study called ASPIRE on the efficacy of the ring and results showed the ring could reduce the risk of HIV by 27 percent generally and up to 80 percent with higher adherence.”
She said it was important for women especially to have choices in reducing risk to HIV.
“In HIV prevention we really want to give women choices. The more choices they have, the more they are likely to adhere as every woman will find at least something, which suits them and the more likely that they will use it.
“We are working on adopting guidelines and I am sure that the Ministry of Health and Child Care will soon recommend PrEP as another intervention that we can use as country to fight HIV.
source The Herald