What You Need Know About Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) Pill Launched in Kenya
The country on Thursday witnessed the historic roll-out of the Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) pill aimed at protecting HIV negative Kenyans who are at a high risk of contracting the virus.
The launch saw Kenya become the second country in Africa to launch the anti-HIV oral drug which will now be available to the common citizens.
However, Kenyans raised a variety of questions regarding the ease of accessing the drug, its cost, dosage, who is eligible to use it, side effects among others.
So, what is PrEP?
Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis is the new pill in town taken on a daily basis by HIV-negative persons who are vulnerable to infection.
How often do I need to take the pill?
PrEP is taken once every day and its users are advised to swallow the drug around the same time as you took it the previous day. However, it will still be okay if you take the pill outside the time interval for a few hours.
How effective is PrEP?
The new drug, if taken daily in the recommended dosage, lowers the risk of getting the virus by up to 90 percent. Users need to use PrEP for a minimum of 20 days for them to be fully protected.
Remember, the pill does not prevent users from other Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) and unwanted pregnancies, therefore, should be used in combination with condoms.
Worried about how to access the drug?
PrEP will be provided for free in selected health outlets. All you need is to walk into the nearest health facility to get prescriptions on the dosage.
So, who is the new pill meant for?
It should strictly be used by HIV-negative people at a high risk of contracting the virus such as a person with multiple sexual partners and those unable to consistently use condoms with a partner of unknown or HIV positive status.
Also, it is recommended for anyone who is in an ongoing sexual relationship with an already infected partner and one who regularly gets infected with sexually transmitted infections.
Can PrEP be used by HIV-positive patients?
The pill should only be used to protect you from getting the virus but not for treatment purposes. Using the pill could make the HIV virus resistant to medication for those who are already infected.
Stopping the medication
Better still, you can stop taking the drug whenever you are out of the risk of being infected. Just consult your healthcare provider to get the best advice before stopping PrEP.
What about the side effects?
The pill has mild side effects including rash, headache, vomiting, nausea and loss of appetite. The side effects, however, disappear after a few weeks of using the drug.