via Leadership, by Winifred Ogbebo
*Mentions IRMA advocate Morenike Ukpong!*

Like a breath of fresh air, the news that a combination prevention drug would soon hit the Nigerian market is definitely something to cheer about, given Nigeria’s high prevalence of HIV rate, which is said to be second only to South Africa in the African continent. WINIFRED OGBEBO reports.

It is like Sunday-Sunday malaria drugs. But in this case, you take HIV drug to prevent HIV and HIV negative people, says the Director-General, National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), Prof John Idoko, explaining the new prevention treatment drug, pre- exposure Prophylaxis.

“From what we learnt from malaria for example, he explains further, “if we give the drugs to somebody who doesn’t have HIV, and the person has sexual relationship with an HIV positive partner, it can prevent transmission from the positive person to the person. That is why it’s called a pre- exposure prophylaxis because before exposure, the person has taken the drugs and because he has the drugs in him, the virus cannot infect him or her.”

Also, Idoko says, “ If you take this sero-discordant couples; one is positive and the other is negative, instead of giving the drug to the negative person before the sexual relationship, just put the positive one on drug as soon as you know. It doesn’t matter what his CD-4 count is even if it’s 500, just give him the drugs. It has shown clearly one of the best study results that we have seen, as 96 per cent chance of the person transmitting HIV is blocked. So we call that treatment as prevention. So you can now imagine that if you go to a community, and they are using this method, your chances of blocking transmission are very high. We believe that these are the two things we need to put together as part of our combination prevention method.”

The pre-exposure prophylaxis is the newest HIV prevention tool that has been developed. It involves the use of Truvada, an antiretroviral to prevent HIV infection. A few studies have shown the ability of this drug to prevent HIV infection in sero-discordant couples, MSMs, transgenders and in men and women.

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