Pharmacists win big in HIV self-testing drive

The Government has partnered with pharmacists to drive the recently-launched HIV self-testing programme and administering preventive drugs to people at high risk.

The move is a major win for the more than 4,000 pharmacists registered with the Pharmaceutical Society of Kenya (PSK) whose operations will be the primary healthcare centres to support the efforts to fight HIV/Aids.

Heavy backing from the programme is expected to drive constant traffic of customers to pharmacies, thus boosting their businesses.

The partnership with National Aids and STI Control Programme (NASCOP) was announced at the PSK Annual Scientific Conference.

PSK President Paul Mwaniki said pharmacists were collaborating with Government and other partners such as the the Pharmacy and Poisons Board and the Clinton Foundation to enhance self-testing to reach nearly eight million Kenyans who have never tested for the virus.

Empower citizens

He said about 40 per cent of Kenyans access healthcare through the private sector and pharmacists would, therefore, reach more Kenyans with the self-testing kits as well as the pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) drugs launched by the Government on May 4.

Kenya is the second country in Africa after South Africa to launch self-testing for HIV as a means of empowering its citizens to fight HIV.

A single-use disposable kit will cost at least Sh750 and four brands have already been approved for use in Kenya by the Ministry of Health.

The programme is expected to contribute to ending the HIV epidemic, which would also ease pressure on the economy and household budgets.

For those at significant risk, PrEP is offered as an additional tool to prevent HIV infection.

The community pharmacy will identify individuals at risk and link them to PrEP services.

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