Efforts to curtail the spread of HIV in Africa are reaching new heights as the Kenyan government has announced plans to roll out preventive drugs. The drugs will be rolled out specifically for HIV-negative people who are considered extremely vulnerable to contracting the virus. It will be the second time such a drug will be distributed in Africa after the government of South Africa conducted a similar programme in 2015.
The drug, Pre-exposure Prophylaxis, PrEP, will first be made available to those who stand a higher risk of contracting the virus before it will be released to the entire Kenyan population. Results from trials show that the drug prevents the spread of the virus by coating human being’s cells, preventing the HIV virus from attaching to the cells, and thus providing it with the mechanism to fight off the HIV virus.
Pre-exposure Prophylaxis is being introduced after studies conducted both in Kenya and Uganda showed an over 96 percent potency of the drug in preventing the virus if taken once daily. The study also showed that if used consistently, the drug can significantly reduce the risk of getting HIV from unprotected sex.
The development follows the announcement that the government of Nigeria has signed a treaty establishing the Abidjan- Lagos corridor project, one of the major projects in the West African corridor joint project between five countries which seeks to curtail the spread of the HIV virus, among other things, in the western part of Africa. The project which was endorsed in 2012 will see major roads constructed in the five west African countries of Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Ghana, Togo, and the Benin Republic, to facilitate communication between customs officers and sharing of intelligence in fighting cross-border diseases, especially HIV.