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Kenya become the first African country to roll out PrEP as a national program, in the public sector, in May, 2017. Photo via The Star

Sixty-five Kenyans have contracted HIV while consistently taking the preventive drugs called Prep, the Ministry of Health has said.

If taken as prescribed, the pre-exposure prophylaxis drugs provide 100 per cent protection against HIV, so it is difficult to prove why the infections happened. 

Nam-Aidsmap, a UK-based charity, in its analysis of the findings said some could have acquired HIV during a period of poor adherence or drug supply interruption. 

Kenya rolled out Prep as a national programme in the public sector in May 2017, becoming the first African country to do so. 

The last count done in Kenya in 2019 showed that 25,000 people were using Prep.

Medical experts say that there is no consistent data on how many people are using Prep, as a significant number takes it only to have risky and unprotected sex and then drop out. 

The 65 cases happened between 2017 and 2021, but there could be more people who have become infected and were not documented.

The findings were presented online last week at the 11th International Aids Society Conference on HIV Science.

The authors said most of the people who turned positive had drug resistance mutations to the Prep drugs Emtricitabine and Tenofovir.

The researchers were unsure if the resistance came as a result of taking Prep or it may in some cases have already been there in the HIV that people acquired.

This drug resistance in the people who became positive was higher than seen in the general population.

“The high frequency of HIV drug resistance in HIV-infected individuals on PrEP exceeds background levels,” the researchers say in the study, also conducted in Zimbabwe, Eswatini and South Africa.

Some 79 Prep users in South Africa also turned positive within the same period, 36 in Zimbabwe and 28 in Eswatini.

All the infections came from among an estimated 104,000 people taking Prep in the four countries since 2017.

Researchers from the Kenya Medical Research Institute and the Ministry of Health's National Aids and STIs Control Programme were involved in the study.

Principal researcher Dr Urvi Parikh of Pittsburgh University said 35 per cent acquired HIV in the first three months on Prep, 40 per cent from three months to a year on it, and 18 per cent in people who had taken it for more than a year.

“But it does suggest that HIV infection on Prep is proving to be rare,” Nam-Aidsmap, a UK-based charity said in an analysis of the study.

The Prep users who turned positive were also tested for Prep drug levels in their blood, but this showed high drug levels, indicating good adherence.

“So some could have acquired HIV during a period of poor adherence or drug supply interruption, but when diagnosed had good adherence,” the Aidsmap analysis says.

The participants who provided a blood sample for analysis had a median age of 24 years, from a range of 16 to 67 years and 74 per cent were female.

Key populations included HIV serodiscordant couples (21 per cent), female sex workers (10 per cent), men who have sex with men (nine per cent), and transgender individuals (six per cent).

Prep failure is extremely rare if taken along with other prevention tools.

With hundreds of thousands of individuals using PrEP worldwide, only six cases have so far documented HIV infection among those with high adherence. - John Muchangi, The Star

The US was the first to impose sanctions on Ethiopia. JA editing: ALEX BRANDON/AFP; Mistrulli/Fotogramma/ROPI-REA

At the beginning of his term in office, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed was hailed by the international community. However, he has been subjected to strong diplomatic pressure since the beginning of the conflict in Tigray. The US was the first country to impose sanctions on Ethiopia. Will others follow suit?

Will US secretary of state Antony Blinken be able to make Abiy bend to his will? After seven months of conflict in Tigray, the US secretary of state decided to engage in a showdown with the Ethiopian prime minister by announcing, on 23 May, that visa restrictions would be implemented against several officials.

Blinken said these sanctions are aimed at all actors involved, specifically, “Ethiopian or Eritrean government officials, members of the security forces, or other individuals”. But there is no doubt that the most unexpected target is Ahmed’s administration. By Romain Gras, The African Report

Moses Danda CEO Kenya Scouts Association, during the distribution of Sanitation materials to mitigate Covid 19 in Kisumu
In Summary

• The program entails distribution of water tanks, face mask, hand washing soaps and even distribution of food to the vulnerable communities.

• Kisumu has been one of the hot spot counties as Covid-19 infections continue to increase within the Lake Region.

The Kenya Scouts Association (KSA) has launched a Sh1 million program in Kisumu county to mitigate Covid-19 within the county.

Kisumu has been one of the hot spot counties as Covid-19 infections continue to increase within the Lake Region.

According to the Association CEO, Moses Danda, the program entails distribution of water tanks, face mask, hand washing soaps and even distribution of food to the vulnerable communities.

He said the distributed materials will help scale up the ward against Covid-19 situation in the county which is alarming and also help in sanitation.

Danda said they usually have some small allocation within the association and decided to support the Kisumu residents in the fight against the spread of Covid 19.

"For us scouts, this is an educational thing and it's something we have being doing at the same time educating our youths and young people to be useful and be ready to help anytime," Danda said.

Chief Commissioner KSA Victor Radido, noted that residents have been suffering with the third wave of Covid-19 being witnessed across the country with some not able to access some of the basic items currently such as mask, washing soaps and even foodstuffs.

Chief Commissioner Kenya Scouts Association Victor Radido.
Chief Commissioner Kenya Scouts Association Victor Radido.

Radido said they intend to reach out to about 2000 households.

"We have involved our young people who will be attached to different wards for purpose of distribution of the water tanks, face marks and even hand washing soaps,' Radido said.

Adding, "We are also doing our best to reach out to the most vulnerable groups and give them foodstuffs to cushion them during this period."

Anthony Gitonga a board member at Kenya Scouts Association.
Anthony Gitonga a board member at Kenya Scouts Association.

However, Anthony Gitonga, a board member at KSA, noted that they have done similar programs in Siaya, Nyeri, Mombasa, Kajiado and will still move to other counties.

The Association CEO Moses said Sh1 million has been set aside to aid the process during this Covid-19 period.

There has been an increase in the number of Covid-19 infections for the last few weeks with authorities calling for adherence to the laid down protocol. By Faith Matete, The Star

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