By Lucy Osuizigbo-Okechukwu
Awka, Aug. 4, 2020 The New HIV Vaccine and Microbicudes Advocacy Society (NHVMAS), on Tuesday said that survivors of rape should endevour to take Post-Exposure Prophylaxsis (PEP), after 72 hours of the act, to prevent HIV infection.
Mrs Florita Durueke , Executive Director, NHVMAS, during a Weekly online training for journalists on HIV Prevention Research, said that access to PEP was necessary due to the increasing number of rape cases recorded in the country.
Recently, the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, said that about 717 rape cases have been recorded in Nigeria by the Police between January and May 2020.
Durueke said rape victims may not know if the rapist had HIV or not, hence the need to take PEP after being raped.
She explained that PEP is an antiretroviral drug taken to reduce the likelihood of HIV infection after potential exposure either through occupational hazards or sexual intercourse.
“Rape is on the increase in Nigeria and there is the need to scale up acces to PEP. It is an Antiretroviral drug to be commenced after 72 hours of exposure and taken daily for 28 days for maximum protection against HIV infection.
“We also see cases of children being raped, Aside adults, children who are above two years old should receive PEP to avoid becoming infected.
“Lack of awareness and stigma have been a serious challenge and we need the media to promote this intervention to reduce the burden of HIV/AIDs in the country.
“PEP is available in all HIV treatment and prevention cites in Nigeria at no cost, but certain tests will be cartied out and may be paid for, before being placed on PEP, “she said.
Also speaking, Mr Oluwatosin Alaka, Programme Cordinator at NHVMAS, said there was the need to reduce risky behaviours and promote Abstenance and being faithful to a partner, to reduce the burden of HIV infection in the country.
“There are millions of HIV infection in Nigeria and we can not rely on treatment alone, we still need to prevent new infections.
“People need to go for HIV counselling and testing or even do self-testing to know their status. The male and female condoms are also available to prevent HIV infection.
“Also, the Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision (VMMC), which is the reduction or removal of the fore skin of the penis, reduce the chances of contracting HIV by 60 per cent.
” The fore skin can habour micro organisms that could cause infection such as HIV.
This is why VMMC has been adopted in the HIV/AIDs prevention strategy, “he said.
Alaka said the training was to stimulate thinking and amplify news stories promoting HIV prevention research in the country.
Newsmen reports that NHVMAS is a non-governmental organisation that monitors global HIV prevention research.