Government through the Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC) Friday launched a new HIV prevention initiative dubbed Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) a daily pill taken to reduce the risk of contracting HIV.
Addressing guests at the celebrations of the one million men circumcised in Zimbabwe and launch of the (PrEP) strategy, Health and Child Care Minister Dr David Parirenyatwa emphasized that the pill is strictly for those that are at high risk of contracting HIV and people should not take comfort in it as it is not for life.
“Oral PrEP is a special pill that is taken daily to reduce the risk of contracting HIV, I would like to emphasize now that PrEP is not for everyone and neither is it a morning after pill, it is strictly for those who are at higher risk of contracting HIV these include students in tertiary institutions, discordant couples, sex workers and truck drivers,
“Currently sex workers contribute 50% to new HIV infections and the general population 14%. Please do note that PrEP is not for life but a responsible choice that one has to make during periods of high risk of HIV infection,
“We are fully confident that if we are also now able to reach out to those who are at higher risk of HIV with an intervention that meets their needs, then we have a greater chance of ending HIV by 2030, we have evidence that PrEP is effective and if taken correctly provides up to 90% protection against HIV,” he said.
Zimbabwe has managed to reduce the number of new HIV infections from 64 000 per year to 32 000 with 87% of people living with HIV now on treatment.
Since the implementation of the Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision Program (VMMC) one million men have been circumcised in Zimbabwe.
Speaking at the same event, Deputy Director, AIDS and TB Dr Tsitsi Apollo added that Male circumcision scaled up after nurses could also competently perform male circumcision complementing the doctors and managed to avert new HIV infections.
“In 2017 we had a modelling exercise whose results have shown so far that the program has had an encouraging impact so far, the results have shown that we have so far managed to avert a total of 18,000 new infections and the number will increase to 200,000 if we continue to meet our circumcision targets,” said Apollo.
Meanwhile, the Prep is being offered through New Star Centers, Zimbabwe National Family Planning Council (ZNFPC) and Public health facilities.