THE Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) campaign which was launched by the ministry of Health in 2016 is set to end this September.
The programme which has been run by non-governmental organisation Jhpiego since October 2017 is targeting at least 15 000 by the end of next month.
Although statistics for other districts were not readily available, district PrEP leader Sebaki Leluma told the press on Thursday that the programme has so far reached 2879 people in the Maseru, Berea and Leribe districts. He said they have also reached 390 sex workers in the same areas.
Mr Leluma said the prep campaign targets groups which vulnerable to HIV infections such as young women and men, adolescents and sex workers. He added they also target adolescents from 15-years onwards.
Mr Leluma said while the prep pill is already available in health centres around the country Jhpiego in partnership with other non-governmental organisations are working hard on community sensitisation on the importance of PrEP.
“We have embarked on community mobilisation to ensure that we reduce the number of HIV infections in the country especially new infections that seem to be escalating,” Mr Leluma said.
“PrEP is for people who are HIV negative but are at risk of HIV infection. Among these are those who indulge in unprotected sex with partners whose HIV status they do not know, people who have multiple sex partners, people who have sexually transmitted infections frequently and people who have frequent condom bursts just to mention a few.”
PrEP is when people at a high risk of infection take HIV medicine daily to lower their chances of getting infected.
It has been proven to be highly effective for preventing HIV if used as prescribed but it is less efficient when taken inconsistently.
Daily PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV from sex by more than 90 percent. Among people who inject drugs, it reduces the risk by more than 70 percent.
The risk of getting HIV from sex can be even lower if one combines PrEP with condoms and other preventive methods. It however, does not prevent other STI’s and unwanted pregnancies.
Mr Leluma said discordant couples (where one partner is HIV negative and another is HIV positive) can also benefit from PrEP and added that they train people the correct use through community mobilisation.
“PrEP works best when taken daily as prescribed by health providers and when taken consistently PrEP has proven to reduce the risk of acquiring infection by 90 percent,” Mr Leluma said.