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US donated HIV preventive injection arrives next year

Dr. Lisa Nelson, the Uganda Country Director for the US Centers for Disease Control (middle)

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Uganda will receive its first batch of Injection Anti-Retroviral Therapies (ARVs) used as prevention for individuals at high risk of HIV, next year.

This has been revealed by Dr. Lisa Nelson, the Uganda Country Director for the US Centers for Disease Control.

Dr. Nelson said while the Cabotegravir Long Acting Injection commonly known as Cab-LA was approved for use in HIV prevention by the World Health Organization last year, the doses available are still too few to provide enough quantities for all countries in need.

The injection which has also been evaluated and approved by the National Drug Authority (NDA) of Uganda is given in a way that the first two injections are administered four weeks apart, followed thereafter by an injection every after eight weeks.

Dr. Nelson says the HIV drug will gradually become available for use as Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) although she adds that Uganda will only receive a few doses that will be donated under the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) programme and quantities will increase as manufacturing ramps up.

Dr. Nelson was speaking at a Science Café organized to discuss the state of HIV funding in Uganda following the launch of a new five year strategy by PEPFAR.  Under the programme which has been in the country for the last twenty years, up to $400 million dollars is released annually to buy ARVs for people living with HIV and to fund other HIV related programmes such as PrEP and Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision (VMMC).

At the meeting, Dr. Mary Borgman, the PEPFAR Uganda Country Coordinator said  in their newly launched strategy, they will continue to fund prevention activities including adopting new prevention innovations just as they are now considering procuring CAB-LA for the highly at risk populations such as sex workers, men who have sex with men and discordant couples.

She however noted that they are not yet sure of how much exactly will be coming to Uganda annually with the uncertainties created by the anti-gay bill which has just been passed by parliament of Uganda and awaits presidential accent.

Already, the US has expressed concerns that criminalizing homosexuality and queer sex represents one of the most extreme actions taken against the LGBTQ community in the world.  The US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby warned Uganda that imposing the controversial law could invite possible economic implications.

Even without this however, Dr. Borgman said Uganda needs to put aside money domestically that will help in the roll out of donated CAB-LA for procurement of consumables such as syringes that will be used in procuring the injection.

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