Sunday, May 19, 2024

Finally, anti-HIV medication coming to your doorstep

HIV Research scientists have scaled up a study in Kenya that may see Pre Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) administered at private community based pharmacies.

PrEP is the Anti-Retroviral (ARVs) regimen administered to HIV negative people who are at a high risk of contracting the virus due to their sexual behaviors.

They include members of the key population like female sex workers and people who use drugs.

Dr Victor Omollo from the Kenya Medical Research Institute, Research Care and Training Program (KEMRI-RCTP) in Kisumu said the study is known as Pharmacy based PrEP Delivery in Kenya.

The pilot study was conducted in Kisumu and Kiambu counties with two community based pharmacies in each county.

“We later scaled this up to six pharmacies each for the two counties while phase two will have a total of 60 pharmacies in Nairobi, Kisumu, Kiambu and Homa Bay counties,” said Dr Omollo.

The study is being steered by Principal Investigators Prof Elizabeth Bukusi and Prof Kenneth Ngure.

Key challenges

Currently, PrEP is administered at selected health facilities or Key Population Drop in Centers that are exclusive for KPs.

They however face challenges like stigma and a general lack of privacy.

“The other challenges include the long hours of wait before one person is served and the travel distance they have to cover to the facility. Such facilities also have limited working hours,” said Dr Omollo

He spoke during a media science café organized by the Media Environment Science Health and Agriculture (MESHA) in Kisumu over the weekend.

The other challenges include the long hours of wait before one person is served and the travel distance they have to cover to the facility. Such facilities also have limited working hours

Dr Omollo

The study was first done through formative research that involved opinions from stakeholders including PrEP users and providers.

A pathway was developed for screening for eligibility and delivery that would be tested during the study.

Dr Omollo said that a clinician would be available for any consultation by the pharmacy personnel during the study period.

Should the outcome of the study be approved, there will be mass rollout of PrEP treatment in local pharmacies to facilitate access.

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