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Cowdry Park Clinic Now Administering HIV Prevention Injection

Cowdray Park Clinic in Bulawayo is now offering the Long-Acting Injectable, Cabotegravir (CAB-LA) drug, an injectable HIV prevention drug that provides long-acting protection.

As reported by The Sunday News, the first injection of CAB-LA was administered on 10 April in Harare and the jab is administered once in two months.

CAB-LA is being administered under a study called Catalysing Access to New Prevention Products to Stop HIV (CATALYST).

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CATALYST is Maximizing Options to Advance Informed Choice for HIV Prevention (MOSAIC)’s flagship product introduction study.

This study aims to provide and assess an enhanced service delivery package that includes oral PrEP, the PrEP ring, and injectable cabotegravir.

MOSAIC is a five-year global project funded by the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) whose primary goal is to help adolescent girls, young women, and other women prevent HIV by accelerating the introduction and scale-up of new and emerging biomedical prevention products.

MOSAIC Project Lead and Co-Principal Investigator of the CATALYST Study, Dr Emily Gwavava, said:

The long-acting injectable cabotegravir (CAB-LA or CAB PrEP) is now available at all six CATALYST study sites — SHAZ! Hub at CitiMed Hospital in Chitungwiza, Ngundu Rural Health Centre, Runyararo Clinic in Masvingo, Plumtree District Hospital, Beitbridge Wellness Centre, and Cowdray Park Clinic.

CAB PrEP was made available to study participants on Monday 20 May 2024. According to the current national guidelines CAB PrEP will not be available to pregnant and breastfeeding women in Zimbabwe although women who fall pregnant while already using CAB PrEP will be allowed to continue.

In randomised controlled trials (HPTN 083 and HPTN 084), CAB-LA demonstrated a 79% relative reduction in HIV risk compared to oral PrEP.

CAB PrEP is also safe for men, but the CATALYST study is specifically for women given their increased vulnerability to HIV. Said Gwavava:

It has a reduced dosing frequency with clients receiving injections every two months. CAB PrEP offers discretion for those not willing to disclose their PrEP use to others. CAB PrEP users have nothing to store or carry before, during, or after the injection.

CAB PrEP reaches maximum protection about one week after the first injection. Users should use additional HIV prevention methods during this time.

The CATALYST study is being implemented in the country by Pangaea Zimbabwe in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Child Care and the Organisation of Public Health Interventions and Development (OPHID) which launched in June 2023.

The study has been offering women a choice of oral Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) and the dapivirine vaginal ring. Added Gwavava:

In April 2024, the study introduced a third PrEP option, the long-awaited long-acting injectable cabotegravir (CAB-LA or CAB PrEP) so women will be able to choose from oral PrEP, the dapivirine vaginal ring, and CAB PrEP. All three PrEP methods have been demonstrated to reduce the risk of HIV infection and are approved and registered for use in the country.

Gwavava also said CATALYST is a study with a fixed amount of CAB PrEP available for use during the study. Therefore, the number of participants that can be enrolled is limited.

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