Zim ministry to roll out HIV prevention drug

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THE Ministry of Health and Child Care will start rolling out Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) after the pilot project was successful in selected districts in Masvingo Province.

PrEP is an Anti-Retroviral (ARV) drug which is taken by HIV negative individuals who believe they are at high risk of getting infected with the HIV virus.

It is taken seven days before the actual sexual encounter. For married couples and discordant couples, the drug is taken daily.

PrEp is expected to be rolled out across the country at the beginning of next year, according to officials.

National Aids Council Masvingo Province Provincial Manager, Mr Edgar Muzulu while addressing journalists recently during a media tour in Masvingo Province said health experts had seen it fit that the programme be rolled out across the country following its success in Masvingo.

“We are excited to announce that after a successful pilot project of rolling out PrEP in selected districts in Masvingo Province, we are now ready to start rolling out the programme to the rest of the country and this will begin in 2019,” said Mr Muzulu.

He said they were working closely with the Health Ministry to ensure smooth commencement of the programme.

Mr Muzulu said the much awaited programme would come as a relief to discordant couples and key populations including sex workers, truck drivers and women, married couples, tertiary institution students, youths among others.

Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis

He said NAC had been monitoring the effectiveness of PrEP since 2017 when it was rolled out to selected districts.

“In 2017, more than 3 500 people took up PrEP as an additional method of HIV prevention. This comprehensive strategy on PrEP provided us strategic direction on how to provide PrEP for those at high risk across all districts in Zimbabwe,” he said.

Mr Muzulu said PrEP provides up to 90 percent protection against HIV.

“We have evidence that PrEP is effective and if taken correctly, provides up to 90 percent protection against HIV infection,” he said.

“In 2017, more than 3 500 people took up PrEP as an additional method of HIV prevention. We are confident that as we will scale up PrEP in Zimbabwe, the number of new HIV infections will significantly be reduced and we will continue to put our hands, minds and hearts together for a better Zimbabwe.”

Source: The Chronicle

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