Kenya combats HIV/AIDS with new pill and self-testing kit
Kenya launched a pill and self-testing kit to empower its citizens against HIV/AIDS. Its aim is to reduce infections by 75 percent by 2019, according to the government’s ministry of health.
The Kenyan government will carry out free distribution of the prevention pill Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to about 200,000 Kenyans for the next five years. Kenya is spending Sh 30 billion (P14.5 billion) in seven counties that account for 60 percent of infections, reports Kenya news site Daily Nation. High-risk groups are targeted, such as teenagers, sex workers and the gay community.
Kenya is the second country after South Africa to implement the pill, which is only effective among those who are HIV-negative. Kenya’s National AIDS and STI Control program head Martin Sirengo said that PrEP should be used alongside other methods of protection. The drug can also be bought for Sh3,600 (P1,742) monthly.
A self-testing kit was also launched to help those unaware of their condition, such as young girls afraid to get tested in centers. Kenyans can now buy a blood sample kit and an oral swab kit in pharmacies for up to Sh1,000 (P483). Results are accurate up to 80 percent.
Users can opt to do a swab called OraQuick to get results in 20 minutes. After swabbing their upper and lower gums, they put the swab in a reagent to receive results.
The blood sample kit Insti can provide results after pricking one’s finger and placing blood on the kit.
HIV affects 1.5 million Kenyans, but only two of three are being treated. According to a 2015 report from the Center for Global Health and Prevention, HIV/AIDS is the top cause of death in the country at 61 percent. The sexually transmitted infection, if left untreated, damages the body’s immune system, making it susceptible to infections and diseases. Niña V. Guno/JB
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