Trump's Govt Casts Shadows Uhuru's Landmark Achievement

  • DP Wiliam Ruto and President Uhuru Kenyatta in deliberation. File
  • The American government has warned the Kenyan government about not complying with its order to change to newer strains of Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) drugs used by about 56,000 HIV negative Kenyans.

    Reports from the Standard on Sunday, December 15, indicate US President's Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (Pepfar) which flagged the PrEP regime used in the country as unsafe and recommended a change to regimens containing the less poisonous Dolutegravir (DTG).

    The American program Pepfar, which supports close to 1 million Kenyans in the war against HIV/AIDS, expressed its regrets with Kenya's slow progress towards a much safer dosage containing the less toxic drug-taking note that the agreed-upon deadline for the transition was in October 2019.

    Kisumu County Health Minister Dr Elizabeth Ogaja (third left) leads other county staff in launching Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis pills (Prep) at Acacia Hotel on July 11, 2017.
    Kisumu County Health Minister Elizabeth Ogaja (third left) leads other county staff in launching Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis pills (Prep) at Acacia Hotel on July 11, 2017.

     "Introduction of the fixed-dose combination of Tenofovir, Lamivudine, and Dolutedeavir is a minimum requirement of the Kenya Country Operating Plan 2019," the memo warning the country to make the change before aid cuts by the Trump Government warned.

    In 2016, the government introduced PrEP, becoming the second country in sub-Saharan Africa after South Africa to issue full regulatory approval of the method, which uses antiretroviral drugs to protect HIV-negative people from getting infected.

    Reports that informed the government's decision showed that the drug reduces the risk of HIV infection with up to 96 per cent, information that led to the drug being incorporated into the country’s HIV prevention roadmap as the newest strategic framework.

    The concerns by the American government, however, is that the current drugs in use might have serious effects on users given the warnings to be screened for kidney function before being put on the pill and regular checks thereafter.

    The concern is that due to the unavailability of the relevant tests, some of the users are exposed to a myriad of complications including kidney impairment, bone loss and liver problems as a result of the current drug.

    The demands by the American government come in the backdrop of research made public on October 30, 2019, which has painted a drab picture of Kenya's war against HIV/AIDS in both the infected and uninfected Kenyan citizens dependent on government-approved drugs.

    The research, titled Prevalence and Correlates of Neurocognitive Disorders among HIV Patients on Antiretroviral Therapy at a Kenyan Hospital, revealed that some of the drugs used by patients have diverse effects on the patient's mental health.

    President Uhuru Kenyatta addressing delegates at the UNAIDS summit in New Delhi India on October 30, 2015.
    President Uhuru Kenyatta addressing delegates at the UNAIDS summit in New Delhi India on October 30, 2015.

    The research by Kenyan doctors in association with doctors from Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School was tailored to test the HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND) among people living with HIV on antiretroviral therapy (ART) attending routine care visits at the Kenyatta National Hospital HIV clinic between July and August 2015.

    It yielded information that approximately 87 percent of patients who were on Highly Active Anti-Retroviral Therapy (HAART) screened positive for HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND) courtesy of the drugs used.

    The risk of these mental disorders, including dementia, was seen to have a predisposition towards women, with the research indicating that they had a 117 percent chance of suffering from HAND compared to men.