BHESP rolls out PrEP pills to fight HIV

More than 95 adolescent young girls and women have enrolled for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis {PrEP} according to Bar Hostess Empowerment and Support Programme (BHESP) Jogoo Road Wellness Centre statistics for the month of May.

This means that on average 3 people were enrolled daily for PrEP at the drop-in centre, which on average attracts 400 clients monthly.

PrEP is antiretroviral drugs taken daily by HIV-negative people most at risk of HIV infection to reduce their chances of becoming infected.

BHESP statistics for the end of May indicates 22 young females aged 15-19 were enrolled for the daily pill which if used consistently can reduce the risk of getting HIV from unprotected sex by over 90 percent.

The monthly report shows that 39 females aged between 20-24 enrolled for PrEP with the National AIDS and STI Control Programme (NASCOP) reporting that 71,034 people aged above 15 years got infected with HIV in 2015.

“23 percent of the total enrolled for PrEP were females aged 25-30 while 11 percent were 30 years and older,’’ the report adds.

According to Lucy*, 21, one of the young girls enrolled on PrEP at the facility, the daily pill has really helped her protect herself from HIV infection as she is very vulnerable due to the nature of her work.

“I am a female sex worker and I have multiple sex partners. I always use PrEP with condoms to have maximum protection against HIV,’’ she explains.

On her part, Kayte, 19, says; ‘‘the daily pill is a good move and will ensure that many young girls from the slum are not infected with HIV.’’

Asked about the side effects, BHESP clinician Caroline Miloyo responds that PrEP is normally safe and well endured.

“Some clients reported side effects like nausea, headaches, and fatigue. For many of our clients, these side effects went away on their own after the first few weeks of taking the pills,’’ Miloyo explains.

BHESP Executive Director Peninah Mwangi says like any other new innovation PrEP has been met with a lot of false information and myths, however, BHESP has trained champions who are promoting PrEP and diffusing myths surrounding the daily pill.
‘‘Some of the young girls will remain sexually active even in the course of their lives and that’s why BHESP is providing an opportunity for them to protect themselves against HIV through the use of PrEP thanks to the support from DREAMS Innovation,’’ she concludes.

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