Adolescents abusing PrEP


MOST adolescents are not taking advantage of the pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), resulting in high HIV prevalence among them. PrEP has helped many women who cannot negotiate for use of condoms to prevent the spread of HIV.Treatment Advocacy and Literacy Campaign (TALC) treatment literacy officer Owen Mulenga says PrEP has potential to prevent HIV infection by more than 90 percent. “PrEP in Zambia is still a strange thing, especially to adolescents, who are still leading in terms of HIV infection.“We have high prevalence rate of HIV among adolescents because they are not taking anything for prevention,” Mr Mulenga said.He said there is need for stakeholders to help people to know the availability of PrEP in most health facilities countrywide.“The other hindrance could be that PrEP is found in the antiretroviral therapy (ART) section, making it very difficult for adolescents as well as elderly people to access the drug due to stigma,” he said.Mr Mulenga cited another barrier as the need for consent for those below the age of 16 to access the drug.He said TALC has come up with a demand creation programme for adolescents in different parts of the country like Kapiri Mposhi and Choma. Mr Mulenga said instead of just being found at ART clinics,PrEP must be accessible in all health facilities.He, however, applauded the Ministry of Health on the provision and access of ART to adolescents in schools.Mr Mulenga said there is a differentiated service delivery model for children in school. He said there is viral-load suppression among adolescents due to failure to adhere to treatment.“Most adolescents fail to adhere to the right time of taking medication,” he said.Mr Mulenga said when PrEP was discovered and approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)and World Health Organisation (WHO), it was seen as a game changer in HIV prevention. He said TALC is advocating a situation where all sexually active youths can access PrEP to prevent the further spread CLICK TO READ MORE

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