By Katamu Nedinani
Sylvia Nakkasi, Ag. Executive Director at Uganda Network of AIDS Service (UNASO) an HIV prevention Civil Society Organization, has urged the Ministry of Health to embrace the many options for HIV prevention being adopted elsewhere.
Sylvia made the remarks, while making her contribution at an online news conference organized by the Health Journalists Network with a pool of Researchers studying the effectiveness of a daily Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) drug Descovy in their HIV vaccine study that was launched recently in Masaka district.
Dr Eugene Ruzagira, a member of the team of researchers in the exercise, revealed that they are giving all the participants in their PrEPVACC trial a daily Descovy tablet to assess whether it’s effective in preventing participants from getting infected.
Ruzagira who is based at the Uganda Virus Research Institute says the research is aimed at establishing whether Descovy works as well as Truvada in preventing HIV infection. Before it was approved for general use, Truvada’s effectiveness was established in studies done in Uganda.
He says the new drug has only been tested among men who have sex with men in the United States and there’s no data yet supporting its effectiveness in women and heterosexual populations.
Together with Descovy, up to 1,700 participants enrolled at various sites including Mbeya and Dar es- Salaam in Tanzania and Durban in South Africa will be given DNA and protein-based vaccines in two arms which will be compared against a placebo in the third arm.
In Uganda, the research which focuses at enrolling 400 participants has so far received 157 Volunteers already started on PrEP.
Volunteers will be injected four times on the first day, four weeks later, six months and after a year.
Ruzagira says that enrolling Volunteers will end this year but the study continues until 2024.