What is PrEP, Who Should Use it, How to Use it, where to get in Kenya

PrEP in Kenya: HIV prevalence in Kenya is relatively high. According to the UNAIDS, there are 1.5 million persons in Kenya living with the HIV virus and 400,000 of them are not aware they are infected.

PrEP was launched in Kenya in May this year

PrEP was launched in Kenya in May this year. Photo: Courtesy

This means a lot more are at risk of contracting the virus and it is therefore very necessary that people get tested to know their status.

Knowing one’s status is beneficial for both HIV negative and positive individuals. Knowing you are HIV positive will put you in a position to start treatment and adopt interventions to prolong life.

Knowing you are HIV negative also places you in a better position to adopt preventative measures that will minimize chances of acquiring the virus.

One way of reducing chances of getting infected with the HIV virus is through taking PrEP medicine. PrEP is short for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis.

Roll out of PrEP in Kenya only began in May of this year (2017); making it the second country in Africa to adopt use of PrEP outside of research.

Hence, there is a lot of misinformation about PrEPs, what they do, who should use them, how to use them.

PrEP medicine prevents HIV from copying itself in the body once one has been exposed. Therefore, it is only effective when used by HIV negative individuals.

PrEP is especially beneficial for HIV negative people with a high risk of contracting HIV AIDS; such as HIV negative individuals in sexual relationships with HIV positive partners.

PrEP is also beneficial for drug users with a high risk of contracting the HIV from sharing needles.

PrEP pills should be taken every day; one pill a day. The medicine is effective after at least one week of use.

According to UNAIDS, the success rate for PrEP in preventing acquisition of the HIV virus from sex is 90 percent. Success rate in preventing HIV acquisition from drug use is 70 percent.

PrEP does not substitute the benefits of using other preventive measures, such as the use of condoms. In the same breath, it is worth noting PrEP medicine does not prevent other STDs.

Research has shown that long-term use of PrEP does not have harmful effects. Some users may however experience mild side effects such as nausea.

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PrEP medicine is readily available in most pharmacies around the country.

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