Mchinji District Council has engaged its junior staff members on pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) initiative being championed by the Ministry of Health to reduce new HIV infections in the district.
Speaking on Friday, Mchinji District acting principal nutrition, HIV and Aids officer Patrick Mulenga said they want workers to have updated information on new interventions to prevent the spread of the disease.
He said the council has many junior staff who are connected with other people because they always run errands for offices and, therefore, they can disseminate the information more quickly.
“Junior staff members miss out on important information because they are constantly running office errands, but due to the same, they are well connected and this information about PrEP is vital for their health,” said Mulenga.
Mchinji District Hospital HIV and Aids coordinator Godfrey Mwankenja, who is also the District Council Aids Coordinating Committee chairperson, told the workers that PrEP ought to be administered before being involved in risky behaviour.
He said PrEP is different from post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) in that the latter is administered after being involved in risky behaviour.
However, Mwankenja warned that if not properly understood, it can negatively empower people to venture into risky behaviour.
“You take a PrEP oral drug before sleeping with a person you suspect to be HIV positive. So, people should not take advantage of it to engage in risky behaviour,” he said.
One of the participants, Fanny Mazombwe, commended the council for the sensitisation, saying PrEP will protect people from spreading or contracting HIV.
She said: “I am pleased to learn that there is a chance for a person to avoid contracting HIV from someone who is HIV positive.
“However, I want to encourage people to continue using condoms and use PrEP in the absence of condoms.”
The sensitisation was funded by two percent of Other Recurrent Transaction from the council.