World Aids Day on 1 December every year is about the fight against AIDS. But do we still need a day for AIDS? Isn't AIDS under control now? Surely there are good medicines available?
Yes and no. Yes, there are now medicines available which mean infection with the HIV virus is not automatically a death sentence, but instead it is a chronic disease that you can live with. There is even a preventive drugs to protect against infection. But that doesn't mean the problem is solved. Not only are the medicines not available for people in developing countries, but even in Western countries like Belgium there is not yet an easy miracle cure.
For more than a year now reimbursement has been available in Belgium for PrEP (Pre-Exposure prophylaxis), which is effective medication to prevent HIV. That is good news, but to be effective medication to prevent HIV. That is good news, but to be effective the medicine has to be taken according to a strict schedule.
'I am conducting a research on strategies to support the best possible use of PrEP among men who have sex with men; and develop a mobile app to help them to remember their preventive medication. What we can achieve by linking counselling with use of the app. This is because PrEP has to be taken according to a strict schedule, which is not always easy to do, and it also provides no protection against other Sexually transmitted infections. So we still have to stop and think about what we are doing, which is why counselling is also needed'.
HIFA profile: Kristine Yakhama is a Coordinator at Good Health Community Programmes in Kenya. Professional interests: Maternal Neonatal Child Health. Email address: kristineyakhama AT gmail.com