By Herman Opondo
Kenya Government will in April launch Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) for people aged 15 years and above. This comes hot in the heels of a similar move by the South African health ministry.
Dr. Martin Sirengo, head, the National AIDS & STI Control Programme (NASCOP) said PrEP when taken daily can reduce risk of infection by HIV for people who are negative.
“If you have exposed yourself to HIV, for example by having unprotected sex with someone who is living with HIV or coming into contact with infected body fluid, taking PrEP correctly can stop the virus from establishing itself in your body,” said Sirengo, adding that it is an additional protective tool including condoms, safer sex practices and other HIV prevention methods.
He said the drug coats human being’s cells and prevents the HIV virus from attaching to the cells, thus being able to fight off the HIV virus. PrEPs will retail at USD100 per year in some private practitioners.
“We are rolling out this programme based on evidence we collected from our very encouraging project in Thika called Partners Prevention Programme,” Sirengo said. He said that some people who take PrEP experience side effects that last for a short period. They include headache, weight loss, nausea, vomiting and abdominal discomfort.
Dr. Sarah Masyuko, Nascop’s HIV testing and PrEP Manager said the regime involves taking a pill daily for the duration one feels he or she is at risk.
Kenya and South Africa’s national regulatory authorities approved tenofovir disoproxil fumarate/emtricitabine (TDF/FTC, or trade name Truvada) for PrEP in 2015. The country’s Pharmacy and Poisons Board (PPB)—the regulatory body that considers new drugs—also approved TDF/FTC for PrEP for adults at high risk of sexually acquiring HIV-1 infection.