The New HIV Vaccine and Microbicides Advocacy Society (NHVMAS) has advised the Federal Government to prioritise oral Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) access for adolescents.
Mrs Florita Durueke, the Executive Director of NHVMAS, gave the advice in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Awka on Friday.
Durueke said the measure would help to reduce the burden of HIV infection in the country, considering that many young adults indulge in secret sex.
She described PrEP as an antiretroviral drug or oral pill taken daily by HIV uninfected or negative persons to reduce the risk of HIV infection.
She said that the drug offers 96 per cent protection when used consistently and correctly by those at high risk.
“Adolescents should be prioritised for PrEp access in Nigeria.
“This is because they indulge in a lot of sexual activity that we are not aware of, hence the reason we have high rate of teenage pregnancy in the country.
“The risk of HIV infection increases two to three times during pregnancy and about four times at six months postpartum (after delivery).
“That is to say that when a young woman is pregnant, she is vulnerable to contracting HIV.
“Also, the anatomy of a female adolescent increases her risk for HIV infection – a risk significantly higher than that of a female adult.
“So, for individuals who do not use condoms, PrEP is the alternative. They need PrEp as a preventive tool,” she said.
Durueke said that PrEP was not easily accessible to the general public in Nigeria because of its exorbitant price.
She appealed to government to consider offering provision for PrEP financing to make it accessible to persons at risk. (NAN)