Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis uptake is gaining momentum

A HIV prevention expert has urged Kenyans to continue using Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) as it has proven effective in reducing risk of infection transmission.
Prof Kenneth Ngure, in his address at the 39th edition of Science Media Cafe by the Media for Environment, Science, Health and Agriculture (MESHA), says the
uptake of PrEP was encouraging, especially among key populations.

“One of the main challenges to the uptake of PrEP as a prevention method has been the delivery which requires one to visit a health centre. Innovation on delivery models has seen an increase of one hundred and ten uptakes in the number of people getting on PrEP globally,” he said.

Further, he noted that in addition to the oral PrEP model, WHO has recommended using Dapivirine Vaginal Ring as an HIV prevention method.

According to Prof Ngure, the global target was to have three million people on PrEP before 2020. As at 2021, it is estimated 1.3 million people are on this prevention method.

Oral PrEP is taken in a single tablet every day. The pill prevents the virus from copying itself in the body and contracting of HIV when exposed. The Dapivirine Vagina Ring stays in one’s body for three to six months, it releases chemicals that prevent HIV infection, explained Prof Ngure.

In the just-concluded IAS conference 2021, Microbicide Trial Network (MTN) presented a research study on the adherence of dapivirine vaginal ring and oral PrEP in adolescent girls and young women in Africa. According to Prof Ngure, the research was conducted in Uganda, Zimbabwe and South Africa.

“The efficacy adherence for those over 25 was 61 per cent, those of 25 was 10 per cent, while those between 18-20, there was no efficacy,” said Prof Ngure.

Research reported by AVERT, a UK charity that uses digital communications to build health literacy on HIV and sexual health, on global information and education in HIV and AIDS has shown that PrEP has reduced the risk of HIV infection from unprotected sex by over 90 per cent and more than 70 per cent in people who inject drugs. These statistics include individuals with lower adherence levels.

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