The approach, known as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), involves people at high risk of contracting HIV taking an antiretroviral pill, Truvada, daily to lower their chances of getting infected.
“By having these medications in the bloodstream, HIV may be unable to establish infection,” said Dr Elizabeth Irungu from the Partners Scale-up Project.
Truvada costs Sh3,700 per month and its generic equivalent is Sh413.
However, the cost of access is higher due to transport cost, consultation and laboratory fees.
The initiative, which is spearheaded by the government in collaboration with partner organisations, has taken years of clinical work, clinical trials and more than 50 demonstration projects in Kenya and around the world to get to the point where a scaled-up implementation is about to be launched.
According to Dr Barbara Mambo from the National Aids and STI Control Programme (Nascop), the research found that with strict daily adherence, PrEP is over 90 per cent effective at preventing HIV infection.
The studies targeted young women and girls, couples where only one partner is infected (sero-discordant) and people who inject drugs, as well as sex workers and men who have sex with men.
The young women and teenage girls are being targeted because of their fast-growing contribution to new HIV infection.
The young females made up a third of the 71,034 Kenyans aged 15 years and above who got infected with HIV in 2015, says the Kenya Aids Response Progress Report 2016.
YOUNG FEMALE ADULTS
A NationNewsplex review of HIV data shows that the young women’s contribution to new incidence of HIV is way above their proportion in the general population of 10 per cent, given that there were 4.5 million young female adults (15-24) in 2015.