OVER 11 800 Zimbabweans have been initiated on Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis as of last month, an AVAC fellow said on Monday.
By Kudakwashe Pembere
Addressing an International AIDS Society Harare Scientific Symposium, AVAC Fellow-cum-Pangaea Aids Zimbabwe Trust coordinator Definate Nhamo said the number was huge.
“As of May 2019, we have about 11 800 who have been initiated on on PrEP,” she said.
Following the youths demand of PrEP, she said PrEP was only distributed to certain populations perceived to be at risk of contracting HIV.
“So in Zimbabwe we started oral prep in 2016. We started delivering PrEP. Who are we prioritising in terms of the population? And fif we had the resources we would say anyone who needs PrEP can come up and get it.
“But we have prioritised certain population. The population we prioritise are the adolescent girls, young women, female sex workers, men at risk. Men at risk will include men who have sex with men, long distance truck drivers, and sero-discordant couples and transgender population,” Nhamo said.
Nhamo also said other PrEP methods are on their way to be used in Zimbabwe.
“We have the oral PrEP. Hopefully soon we will have the vaginal ring and we will have injectables as what Dr Nyaradzo Mgodi was saying. We will also have implants. But what we are trying to do is add into the prevention basket so that everyone can have something for HIV prevention,” she said.
AIDS and TB Director in the Ministry of Health and Child Care Dr Owen Mgurungi following the youths’ demand for PrEP at the event said if resources permitted they would ensure that everyone had access.
The University of Zimbabwe in collaboration with the University of California – San Francisco project director, Dr Mgodi they have been working on injectables, vaginal ring and monoclonal antibodies as preventative methods against HIV.
500 Zimbabwean Women Enrolled In Cabotegravir Tests
Dr Mgodi said they want to study the superiority in preventing HIV acquisition between Oral Truvada and Cabotegravir, an injectable.
“What we are currently doing is we are studying an injection an antiretroviral called cabotegravir which is in the form of an injection. And this is a study being conducted here in Zimbabwe, and other sub Saharan African countries including South Africa, Uganda, Malawi, and Kenya.
“What we want to do is to assess or to check, whether cabotegravir which is in the form of an injection, is superior or better in terms of preventing HIV when compared to oral Truvada. So that’s what we want to do. We know that oral Truvada works but we want to check if is superior to the oral Truvada,” she said.
She added that Zimbabwe has the highest number of participants in the study.
“So we are enrolling 3 200 women across several sub-Saharan African countries. And Zimbabwe is one of the major contributors to this study. We are going to be enrolling 1 000 women out of 3 000. And to date we have enrolled just over 500 women. So we are doing very well. Participants will get either Oral Truvada or Cabotegravir. This is a very complex study,” Dr Mgodi said.