Katushabe Goretti, an adherence counselor working with the Mulago Hopsital based Most At Risk Populations Initiative (MARPI) spoke to Kuchu Times about the incorporation of PREP ( Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, ) into the HIV prevention mechanisms focusing on key populations especially LGBT persons and sex workers.
Ms Katushabe explained that although training of key populations on PREP have been on going for several months now, MARPI only recently initiated this life saving treatment on 1st August 2017- she also says the clinic is now open to screening clients who need this treatment.
According to the counselor, administering of PREP has mostly been embraced by the female sex workers and several are taking their drugs religiously. She says only a handful of people from the LGBT community have started on PREP but they hope the numbers will gradually increase since this treatment is very vital in the fight against HIV.
PREP is one of the newest interventions in the fight against HIV and health workers especially those directly dealing with key populations are hopeful that it is a game changer- they presume that the rate of HIV infections will drastically drop.
Ms Katushabe encourages key populations to continue engaging in safe sex and not get careless simply because of the availability of PREP.
WHAT IS PREP?
PrEP means Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, and it’s the use of anti-HIV medication that keeps HIV negative people from becoming infected. PrEP is approved by the FDA and has been shown to be safe and effective. A single pill taken once daily, it is highly effective against HIV when taken every day. The medication interferes with HIV’s ability to copy itself in your body after you’ve been exposed. This prevents it from establishing an infection and making you sick.
Even though PrEP has been around for a while now, not a lot of people know about it. And, even fewer people feel like they know enough about it to be able to make an informed decision about whether or not to use it. For those who do use it, the information they have might be more focused on practical issues, like where to get it, rather than on what PrEP does in the body to prevent HIV infection.
In our follow up article later this week, we will focus on how PrEp works and how long it takes for its effectiveness to come into play.