Groundbreaking anti-HIV drug launched in Sindh

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The Sindh government has officially launched a community-wide oral pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP)— a drug taken to prevent HIV — for key populations and serodiscordant couples (where one spouse is infected with the virus and another is not).

At the launching ceremony on Tuesday, Dr. Ershad Kazmi, deputy director-general of the Sindh health department’s Communicable Disease Control (CDC) unit, stated that the number of HIV infections in Pakistan increased by 84 percent between 2010 and 2020. ‘Unless we take bold actions today, we will be unable to stop more new infections, and PrEP is a step in the right direction,’ he said.

The CDC launched the drug in collaboration with the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS), the World Health Organisation (WHO), the United Nations Development Progra¬mme (UNDP), and the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef).

PrEP is not a substitute for condoms but provides another HIV prevention option.

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Community-based delivery of PrEP is essential because community-based organisations working in Sindh have outreach programs and can play a central role in raising awareness and providing stigma-free access to PrEP programs.

PrEP is considered a critical component of HIV prevention.

However, even though more than 10 years have passed since the first evidence of the effectiveness of daily oral PrEP was released.

A large part of its expansion remains heavily concentrated in a few countries.

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