Pre-ex­po­sure pro­phy­laxis tri­als suc­cess­ful: ZNFPC

The Manica Post - - Local News - Sharon Chigeza Post Cor­re­spon­dent

THE Zim­babwe Na­tional Fam­ily Plan­ning Coun­cil (ZNFPC) says clin­i­cal tri­als of the re­cently launched pre-ex­po­sure pro­phy­laxis strat­egy (PrEP) meant to re­duce risks of con­tract­ing HIV in­volv­ing more than 90 pa­tients in Man­i­ca­land were suc­cess­ful.

ZNFPC Ngorima Youth Cen­tre in Chi­man­i­mani dis­trict car­ried out a PrEP pi­lot study in con­junc­tion with Clin­ton Health Ac­cess Ini­ti­a­tion (CHAI) in­tended to as­sess the ef­fec­tive­ness of PrEP on the in­tended ben­e­fi­cia­ries.

In an in­ter­view with The Man­ica Post, ZNFPC pro­vin­cial mar­ket­ing and com­mu­ni­ca­tions of­fi­cer, Mr Daniel Maromo said ad­vo­cacy meet­ings and aware­ness cam­paigns were held prior to the study to con­ci­en­tise the com­mu­nity on the avail­abil­ity of the pre­ven­ta­tive mea­sure.

“Youth Cen­tre staff sup­ported by its pro­vin­cial team and CHAI per­son­nel held an ad­vo­cacy meet­ing in Fe­bru­ary tar­get­ing in­flu­en­tial peo­ple of Rusitu Val­ley com­mu­nity such as tra­di­tional and re­li­gious lead­ers, politi­cians, school heads and vil­lage health work­ers.

“It was meant to pro­vide in­for­ma­tion on PrEP as a one of the meth­ods avail­able to pre­vent the spread of HIV among the sex­u­ally ac­tive and risk-prone pop­u­la­tion in Rusitu as well as to cre­ate aware­ness of the avail­abil­ity of PrEP ser­vices at the youth cen­tre as a pi­lot study,” he said.

A to­tal of 94 peo­ple were in­volved in the study with 85 com­menc­ing PrEP treat­ment af­ter a risk as­sess­ment. Six other peo­ple per­ceived them­selves to be at risk of con­tract­ing HIV but de­clined PrEP.

Mr Maromo said the treat­ment was re­ceived quite well by the users with a very low de­fault rate with women at­tribut­ing the ad­her­ence to be­ing ac­cus­tomed to daily oral con­tra­cep­tives.

“There is a very low de­fault rate in the 25 to 34 age groups es­pe­cially among women prob­a­bly be­cause most of them are used to oral fam­ily plan­ning tablets daily and find it easy to ad­just to the de­mands of PrEP regime,” said Mr Maromo.

He said those who were at risk and came for re­sup­ply had an HIV retest and tested neg­a­tive, which was proof that if taken con­stantly and cor­rectly the treat­ment was very ef­fec­tive.

Mr Maromo also said PrEP did not have ef­fects on be­hav­iour change as risk as­sess­ments conducted on ev­ery visit did not show a de­cline or in­crease in be­hav­iour change and that there was need to equip ser­vice providers with proper risk as­sess­ment tech­niques to en­sure the suc­cess of the strat­egy.

“Health ser­vice providers need to be trained to carry out proper risk as­sess­ment as it is the back­bone to the suc­cess of PrEP as a strat­egy for HIV preven­tion.

“There is need for the ser­vice provider to agree with the clients on re­sup­ply dates to avoid de­fault as these clients are not sick and need to be mo­ti­vated through the pro­vi­sion of ap­pro­pri­ate in­for­ma­tion,” he said.

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