Govt Launches Two Approaches to Fight HIV/Aids in Kenya

The government launched a two-pronged approach in the war on HIV/Aids. It introduced a prevention drug for people at risk of contracting the virus and initiated a method of self-testing. Known as Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), the drug will be given out for free. The targeted population for the roll-out includes discordant couples, people with multiple sexual partners, individuals who have had sexually transmitted infections, addicts who inject drugs, people who have had recurrent use of post-exposure prophylaxis, sex workers and those who do not use condoms consistently. During the launch of the programme, National Aids and STI Control Programme head Martin Sirengo said the drug would also be available to anyone wishing to access use but at a monthly cost of Sh3,600. “If you decide to use PrEP, you must complement it with other methods of protection,” Dr Sirengo said. For the next five years, an estimated 200,000 Kenyans will be put on PrEP, costing the government about Sh30 billion. “We have mapped out seven counties, which account for almost 60 per cent of the infections. They are Kisumu, Homa Bay, Migori, Siaya, Kiambu, Mombasa and Nairobi,” he said. At the same time, a new method of self-testing has been introduced. The kits will be available in private pharmacies and would cost Sh800 to Sh1,000. Two brands have been approved by the government: an oral swab test and a blood sample one. The oral kit, known as OraQuick, will require the user to do a 360 swab of the upper and lower gum of the mouth before placing the swab in a reagent, which will give results in 20 minutes. Those using the blood sample kit known as Insti, would be required to prick a finger and put the blood in a control kit to read the results.

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