The Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) in partnership with the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is conducting a pivotal HIV prevention study to evaluate the safety of VRC01 in reducing acquisition of HIV infection in women in Sub Saharan Africa.
Addressing a workshop of Busia Science journalists at Agricultural Training Centre on Friday, Dr. Dismas Oketch of KEMRI-CGHR said 61 women in Western Kenya have been registered in the Antibody Mediated Prevention study.
“The AMP is a new technology that involves giving people antibodies passively to see if they will protect against HIV infection. The study offers new hope and represents an important level in developing effective and long lasting agents that can prevent HIV infection by using bnAbs particularly effective HIV vaccine that has eluded researchers for decades,’’ he said.
Daniel Aghan from Media for Environment, Science and Agriculture said HIV is still a threat to humankind, adding the high HIV prevalence in Busia County was still a cause for worry with many people infected with the killer disease.
‘’ There are no self-test kits in Busia and yet it is a border town with many truck drivers and sex workers. Kisumu has two chemists selling self-test kits. Busia should be given priority like Homa Bay to help bring down the pandemic,’’ he said.
Aghan regretted that Men who have sex with Men are allegedly being traumatized and threatened due to lack of outreach services on HIV/Aids, adding this is likely to affect new infections in Busia.
He said they have launched hard conversations with scientists to talk openly about the pandemic.
’’ Journalists should break down the language scientists have given them so that people can digest them.’’
Eunice Ouma from KEMRI said RING contraceptive which is synonymous with developed countries will be introduced in Kenya if the World Health Organization and Kenya Government gives it nod.
She said the uptake of female condoms was low in Kenya because of high costs, adding that women are also not comfortable using them and that they are noisy.
Scientists said the major challenge facing them while undertaking studies was lack of financial support from the Government, adding that they rely only on donor funding.