Health ministry says injectable PrEP to eliminate HIV as a public health threat by 2030

By Chisomo Phiri

Ministry of Health has expressed optimism that the newly introduced injectable Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) is safe and has ability to eliminate HIV as a public health threat by 2030.

This is according to the ministry’s director of HIV and AIDS Programmes Rose Nyirenda.

Nyirenda indicates that the injectable PrEP is currently available in several health facilities.

These health facilities include Chilomoni Health Centre, Limbe MACRO, Naperi Drop Centre in Blantyre, and in Lilongwe the health facilities include Area 25 Health Centre, Bwaila Hospital and Area 47 Drop Centre respectively.

Rose Nyirenda

According to Nyirenda,the mentioned six health facilities will provide the most practical, and effective strategies of delivering the injectable PrEP before scaling up to additional 41 selected health facilities across the country.

The director also says that the injectable PrEP can be used by anyone who has reached 15 years and is at substantial risk of contracting HIV as screened by the health care provider.

“This may include among those that are substantially female sexual workers, some pregnant and/or prestigious women who can transmit to their babies, truck drivers who sometimes may have multiple partners among many others,” says Nyirenda.

Nyirenda emphasises that PrEP is not a vaccine against HIV and does not offer protection to individuals if they have been exposed to HIV, and also doesn’t prevent Sexually Transmitted Infections.

She further emphasises that the vaccine is only active for two months hence a need to be vaccinated every other two months.

In January 2021, Malawi rolled out the implementation of oral PrEP for HIV prevention following a successful pilot phase within the country.

As of today over 100,000 are on oral PrEP.

However, almost half of those clients are continuing on Oral PrEP for various reasons.

Inorder to provide options for those eligible to access PrEP, Long-acting injectable PrEP was introduced and launched in September 2023 and is being promoted alongside Oral PrEP and other HIV prevention methods such as condoms, VMMC, STI screening and treatment.