New HIV prevention drug available in Kenya soon


The government will roll out a new HIV prevention treatment next month.

Users of pre–exposure prophilaxis, popularly known as prep, are supposed to take the drug orally daily.

It will be available in state health facilities for free. The drug would cost about Sh600 per month and Sh6,000 annually in NGOs.

Prep is said to be 96 per cent effective in reducing new HIV infections.

Prep is taken by people who are at high risk of contracting HIV, including discordant couples where one partner is HIV-positive and another is negative.

Others eligible for the treatement are individuals who do not use condoms, those who frequently contract STIs, those who have multiple sexual partners, drug users who share syringes and people who frequently use post-exposure prophylaxis even though they are HIV-negative.

Prep can stop HIV from taking hold and spreading throughout the body.

Post-exposure prophylaxis, popularly known as Pep, refers to HIV drugs taken after exposure.

Kenya is the second country in Africa, after South Africa, to rollout Prep.Prep users are advised to practise safe sex.

National Aids and STI Programme chief Martin Sirengo said, “One thing people must know is Prep is not a vaccine. Prep is where you load a drug into your system to prevent you from contracting an infection.”

Prep is a prescription drug. For the treatment to be effective, a person needs to take the pill for at least one week. HIV testing and Prep manager at Nascop Sarah Masyoki said, “Even after taking the medicine for seven days, it is advisable to go back to your healthcare provider to assess the risk and advise whether treatment should continue.”

HIV, renal tests and hepatitis tests are done before someone is put on Prep.

“The concern we have with one of the drugs is that if you have a history of kidney problems, it could worsen. We also screen for hepatitis because the same drugs are used in its treatment and it could become worse. It is important that those who have hepatitis are put on the full-course treatment,” Masyoki said. Side effects of Prep treatment include nausea, headaches, vomitting, and in some cases mild abdominal pain

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