Health officials in Kisii say the number of people using prophylaxis in the region has spiked in recent years. 

Commonly known in medical parlance as PrEP, the medicine is taken to prevent the user from contracting HIV. 

It reduces the risk of getting the disease by about 99 per cent. 

Kisii is often cited for swirling HIV infections. 

Health experts in the region now say with more men accessing the drug before sex encounters, the infections are likely to go down. 

Currently, more than 22,500 men and women use the drug ahead of planned sexual exposure.

This is a significant improvement from the 11,000 five years ago said Florence Ogero who heads the HIV/AIDS department.

The spike in the use of the drug, though most of them unprescribed, has helped scale down infections, she said.

"While the use of PrEP may have helped in stepping down the infections, it is good to note of the efforts done to sensitize our people too," said Ogero.  

HIV prevalence has since declined from 8.9 per cent in 2017 to 4.9 per cent in 2020.

"This decline marks an important progress considering that Kisii is a major commercial hub with many of the neighbouring counties with high prevalence," said Ogero.

PrEP is deemed particularly useful in reducing infections in discordant couples, she observed.

"Using condoms and other means of protection is hard for people who are already married, and therefore the PrEP came in handy," Ms Ogero said.

Data from the county health department shows that female sex workers have increased from 6,538 in 2019 to 6,917 in 2021 and this may have sparked more use of the drug.

A quarter of the female sex workers (about 1,500) in Kisii town are on PrEP.

The county is currently working towards setting one-stop shops in main health facilities across the county where people can access family planning services. 

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