*This article is based off a press release distributed by DTHF partner, Africa REACH.
The Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe recently approved the use of long-acting injectable cabotegravir (CAB-LA) as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV prevention, making Zimbabwe the first African country to authorize the once-every-two-months injectable PrEP drug.
Zimbabwe has a PrEP program that mainly provides oral Truvada and the approval of CAB-LA is a trailblazing moment as it provides an opportunity to improve and expand PrEP choices in Zimbabwe and help strengthen HIV prevention.
Africa REACH, a Desmond Tutu Health Foundation partner, called the news a “ground-breaking development.”
Africa REACH Leadership Council member Dr Agnes Mahomva who is also a Chief Coordinator at the Office of the President and Cabinet of Zimbabwe says “it is important for Zimbabwe and it is also an advocacy tool for other countries in the region to improve and expand PrEP choices for the youth and adolescents.”
Prevention remains one of the most important interventions in the HIV response and while some progress in the fight against HIV has been made globally, the Southern African region continues to carry the biggest HIV burden. This, therefore, calls for the region to expand and strengthen its HIV programming with a focus on prevention.
Director of Programmes, Management and Governance at Y+ Global, Tinashe Rufurwadzo says “the decision by the Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe to approve CAB-LA as an HIV prevention method is lauded by the communities of young people in all our diversity globally. CAB-LA joins the dapivirine vaginal ring as the only long-term HIV prevention methods available with minimal and well-tolerated side effects and are highly effective in reducing the risk of HIV acquisition.”
Zimbabwe has demonstrated commitment and leadership towards eliminating new HIV infections and attaining the 95-95-95 targets and Africa REACH expressed hope that all other African countries can follow suit and be intentional in providing more HIV prevention options for young people in all our diversity to make informed choices.
Zimbabwe also recently won the bid to host the 2023 International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa (ICASA). This development provides the country with a great opportunity to share its journey and experience on the CAB-LA approval and act as an example to other African countries to follow suit and expand their Sexual Reproductive healthcare (SRH) programmes.
Africa REACH’s Leadership Council Member and World Health Organisation- Africa Region (WHO AFRO) Advisory Panelist H.E Adv. Toyin Saraki applauded this, saying “the milestone…is a highly welcomed breakthrough moment. A truly significant step in the right direction in delivering accessible and equitable treatment and prevention, breaking down systemic barriers, and addressing the unmet needs of the HIV burden. Each and every person deserves optimal treatment and the opportunity to live a healthy life to its full potential. I look forward the positive impact of injectable PrEP for Africa and in achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.”
For more information on Africa REACH, visit www.africareach.org and contact:
Campaign Lead: Sonia Ndimbira
Email: [email protected]
Communications and Advocacy Advisor: Olwethu Mlanzeli
Email: [email protected]