The Executive Director of New HIV Vaccine and Microbicides Advocacy Society, NHVMAS, Florita Durueke, has called for the prioritization of access to Pre-exposure prophylaxis, PrEP by adolescents to reduce their risk of being infected by HIV.
Durueke made the call during an online training of journalists on biomedical HIV prevention research advocacy and update on the COVID-19 response.
Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) helps to prevent the multiplication of virus that a person might have been exposed to, thus, preventing the virus from spreading throughout the body. PrEP prior to exposure intervention.
Durueke stressed that there is a need to ensure adolescents have access to PrEP due to the increase in teenage pregnancies and the susceptibility of teenagers to being infected by HIV.
She said: “beyond couples in sero-discordant relationships, adolescents should be prioritized for access to PrEP.
“The anatomy of a female adolescent increases her risk for HIV infection – a risk significantly higher than that of a female adult.
“Teenage pregnancy is high and the risk of HIV infection increases 2-3 times during pregnancy and about 4 times 6 months postpartum.”
The NHVMAS Executive Director also disclosed that there is need to counsel female adolescents with high risk behavior on the need for dual protection adding that PrEP is the alternative for individuals who do not use condom.
She, however, noted that while other countries of the world are involved in next generation PrEP study, Nigeria is still struggling with PrEP access for those at substantial risk of HIV infections.
Durueke explained that there is need for the country to strategize about how to fund PrEP to reduce the number of persons infected by HIV.
“We need to have strategic thinking around financing PrEP and it will reduce the number of infection, instead of just looking at providing ‘after exposure’ interventions
“It is good that as a country we draw a road map on how people can access PrEP,” she added.
Also speaking at the training, Tosin Alaka, Program Officer, NHVMAS stressed that people who are at substantial risk of acquiring HIV infection; Men who have sex with men, transgender individuals, heterosexual women and men, female sexual workers and sexually active adolescents should have access to and use PrEP.
He stressed that clinical trials have revealed that PrEP reduces the risk of HIV infection by 96% if used correctly and consistently.
The NHVMAS team urged journalists to support public education around HIV prevention and amplify the voices around new tools and interventions being provided.