“Taking medicine before exposure to a virus might be nothing new especially when it comes to malaria. However, being on medication (pills) to prevent HIV infection can be an amazing preventive measure.” A University of Zambia (UNZA) Clinic health practitioner has observed that most students are ignorant about the Humane Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) preventive drugs given after exposure to the virus.
National Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) Council Provincial and District Response Coordinator John Banda said the Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) is available in the clinics countrywide.
Mr Banda explained that PEP is a type of Anti-Retroviral Viral (ARV) drug that prevents an individual from contracting HIV after exposure to the virus and has to be taken within 72 hours of exposure.
Meanwhile, University of Zambia Senior Clinical Officer Sharon Mudenda said few students go to the clinic to get the PEP drugs which the clinic gives.
Mrs Mudenda who is also a Dermatovenerologist admitted that the campaigns which have been done in the past by the clinic and UNZA HIV/AIDS response do not include talks on the drugs.
She however said since the medicine is expensive on the market, only those who get infected accidentally, such as through rape, are encouraged to go to the clinic to acquire it.
Mrs Mudenda also said despite the availability of the preventive drugs, behavioural change towards the diseases is the best method of preventing it.
“Behavioural change is the best method of preventing infections. The methods are taught through the media on how to prevent HIV infections,” she said.
She said what is needed now is for people to change their behaviour and take the messages disseminated more serious.
Michael is supporting the team behind the Luska Star. He is a big fan of Zambia and loves to work with the local talents at UNZA.