STI rate in 10-19 age group worries researcher

16 Nov, 2018 - 00:11 0 Views
STI rate in 10-19 age group worries researcher

The Chronicle

Thandeka Moyo, Health Reporter
A PRE-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) study recently conducted among adolescents aged between 10 and 19 years in Zimbabwe shows that a majority of them have STIs, especially chlamydia.

Chlamydia can cause infertility.

Dr Nyaradzo Mmgodi, an HIV clinical trials researcher in women of reproductive age, said the study was successful and that many adolescents were keen to use oral PrEP.

PrEP is a strategy that uses antiretroviral medication (ARVs) and in this case a combination drug brand named Truvada which can be taken daily to lower the chance of getting HIV if exposed by at least 90 percent.

“We have completed a study on PrEP in adolescents HPTN 2 and the uptake was very high. They really accepted PrEP and used it quite well,” said Dr Mmgodi.

“The only thing that saddens me in the study is that rate of STIs was very high in adolescents who participated especially chlamydia. Chlamydia can also lead to infertility and also exposes them to HIV.

“This is a bad finding and shows the magnitude of the problem on the ground so we really need to work hard with the adolescents so that we prevent HIV, further infections and complications of these STIs.”

Experts say chlamydia is found in infected semen and vaginal fluids and can be easily treated with antibiotics.

This particular STI can be passed on through sex without a condom or sharing sex toys with someone who has chlamydia (even if they don’t have symptoms), or from a pregnant woman to her unborn baby.

Having chlamydia or any STI increases your risk of getting HIV because most STIs cause sores or lesions that make it easier for HIV to enter the body.

Zimbabwe was one the first HIV highly burdened countries to adopt PrEP though it is set to roll it out in January next year.

In 2016, the Ministry of Health and Child Care adopted the new ART Guidelines and PrEP was a key part of the guidelines.

“PrEP is becoming a part of the HIV combination preventions where there is still major emphasis on condoms, STI diagnosis and treatment, VMMC, HIV testing services, behaviour change, including abstinence for those people who are not yet sexually active,” said National Aids Council Masvingo province provincial manager, Mr Edgar Muzulu, recently.

“In 2017, more than 3 500 people took up PrEP as an additional of HIV prevention. This comprehensive strategy on PrEP provided for us strategic direction on how to provide PrEP for those at high risk across all districts in Zimbabwe”.

At present PrEP users take a pill every day to get protection and AVAC, an organisation that focuses on HIV prevention research, says another option may be available soon – a vaginal ring that slowly releases ARVs into a woman’s body. —@thamamoe

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