Kenya: Majority of people collecting HIV prevention pills on claims they may have been raped or after a condom bust are not going back for reviews according to hospital sources.
An assessment of such patients shows less than three out of 10 are going for follow up checks as required by their doctors raising questions whether their claims are genuine.
For some time, there has been speculation that sex workers are fraudulently collecting HIV prevention pills from hospitals for use in their trade where they are able to charge their clients more for sex without condoms.
A team from the Ministry of Health's Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Programme may for the first time conclusively tell Kenyans why so few people are willing to follow doctors' prescriptions.
Between July 2013 and last September, the team reviewed 204 records of patients who presented to Olkalou District Hospital Outpatient Clinic for the HIV prevention pills called Post-Exposure Prophylaxis or PEP.
Led by Angelica Nyambura Kuria of Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture Technology the team says out of every ten of the patients less than three ever came back to the hospital for follow up.
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Patients are required to revisit the hospital after 2 weeks, 4 weeks, 3 months and 6 months for monitoring and retesting.
In a brief of their study which will be presented tomorrow at an ongoing international scientific conference at Kenya Medical Research Institute, Kuria says this is a worrying trend.
"This presents a potential public health risk for those who become HIV positive having taken incomplete courses of ARVs as this puts them at risk of developing resistance to anti-retroviral," says Kuria.
The team will recommend that health workers attending to such patients intensify their counseling and stress the importance of revisits before initiating patients on PEP.
They recommend that physical and mobile phone contacts of the patient be recorded for follow up.
While the researchers intention may not have been to unearth whether really some people are cheating their way through to get the pills, the question will definitely be raised at the conference.
The brief says most affected is the 12-21 age group with 45 per cent claiming they had been raped and 27 per cent saying a condom had busted.
One per cent of those seeking PEP tested positive for HIV and were referred to comprehensive care center for further management.
The Fifth KEMRI Annual Scientific and Health Conference which ends on Friday at the Institute's Nairobi headquarters has attracted 500 participants.