Zambia Government Launches Injectable PrEP for HIV

15 February 2024, Mwanjuni Health Post, Chibombo District, Zambia

The Ministry of Health in Zambia launched the injectable pre–exposur prophylaxis (PrEP) medicine for HIV prevention to members of the public in Kitwe, Copperbelt. The injectable prep will act as a prevention measure against HIV. Copperbelt Provincial Health Director Dr Charles Mwinuna said the injectable prep CAB – LA is a great achievement for the fight against HIV as it marks a significant step in the country’s effort to expand HIV prevention services.

Zambia has become the first African country to offer long-acting Injectable Cabotegravir (CAB-LA) for PrEP that will be available to people 16 years and above. This is an injection meant for HIV-negative people but at a high risk of contracting the disease. For those who have trouble taking the pill every day to prevent HIV, this long-acting injectable may be a more manageable option.

The event took place at Mwanjuni Health Post, a facility in Chibombo district which is supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Speaking during the launch of the CAB – LA the Minister of Health, Sylvia Masebo said the step is a new dimension of protection that will help end HIV in Zambia. Masebo said the injectable PrEP is a safe and effective HIV prevention tool that provides clients with two months of HIV protection between injections. The first two injections are administered a month apart followed by subsequent injections every two months.

The injectable PrEP will stand as a safe and effective tool in Zambia’s fight against HIV. CAB-LA is a new HIV prevention method, and the Ministry of Health ensures equitable access to both urban and rural populations in Zambia. This gesture from the US government will benefit many people in the community in the prevention of HIV transmission. The rollout will be done in a phased-up manner and the first will cover Lusaka, Chibombo, Mazabuka, Kitwe and Nakonde Districts.

The U.S. government is the largest donor to Zambia’s health sector, providing services to more than 15 million Zambians, and provides roughly one in every three kwacha spent nationally on public healthcare. PEPFAR partners with the Government of Zambia on the national HIV response through a broad range of services in HIV prevention, care, and treatment.  Over the past ten years, PEPFAR has helped to reduce HIV incidence in Zambia from 72,000 new infections per year to 33,000 per year due to the scale-up of HIV prevention interventions like PrEP.  Just last year alone, nearly 275,000 individuals were initiated on PrEP, with more than 114,000 being adolescents and young people aged 15-24.

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