BY CATHERINE MUCHIRI
A NEW injectable option for HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) pills, Apretude, which is administered once every two months, has been described as a game-changer against HIV exposure.
Scientific research has shown that the Apretude injections reduced the risk of HIV acquisition more than daily PrEP pills.
Apretude has not been approved for HIV prevention anywhere outside the United States but reports indicate that health authorities in several African countries were considering approving the drug.
Mpilo Central Hospital medical doctor Misheck Ruwende told NewsDay that the new injectable PrEP is a significant step towards prevention of HIV, and ending the pandemic.
“It is a significant step towards prevention of HIV and ending the pandemic. We hope the new drug will quickly be made available and affordable to people who need it the most particularly southern Africa countries, Zimbabwe included where we have highest rates of new HIV infections worldwide,” Ruwende said,
No responses could be obtained from the National Aids Council (NAC) chief executive Bernard Madzimba or Health and Child Care deputy minister John Mangwiro.
Ruwende added: “Adherence is difficult with the current PrEP pills which one has to take everyday against these two monthly injections. While we wait for the new drug our people must continue to use the prep pills in discordant couples for prevention of HIV.”
World Health Organisation country representative, Alex Gasasira recently urged authorities not to abandon the fight against HIV in the face of COVID-19.
‘“Studies from across the world have shown that people with HIV are at high risk. We should also do our part to advocate for those in hard to reach communities to the authorities to ensure that COVID-19 vaccines are easily accessible to those in need, especially those with HIV,” Gasasira told journalists at a virtual conference recently.
PrEP pills are taken once-daily while injectable cabotegravir for PrEP involves a single injection administered by a clinician.
The jabs can be given within a seven-day window before or after the scheduled dose. If a person misses an injection by more than a week, they can substitute daily cabotegravir pills for up to two months. More than 1,2 million Zimbabweans are living with HIV.