In a first for Pretoria, OUT's TEN81 Center in Hatfield now offers free PrEP for gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM).
The daily medication, which has been proven to be highly effective in preventing HIV-negative people from getting HIV, will be available from the 3rd of April, 2017.
The groundbreaking use of PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prohylaxis) by MSM and other at risk groups has been approved by South Africa's Department of Health and international bodies such as the World Health Organisation.
"PrEP is a game-changer for MSM," says Johan Meyer, Health Manager at TEN81. "It offers a powerful new tool in the arsenal against the spread of HIV. We especially urge all gay, bi and other MSM who are active on the dating scene, may have multiple partners or choose to have riskier sex to consider using this service."
He adds: "For many gay, bi and MSM internationally, using PrEP has become like taking their daily vitamins. Of course, PrEP should ideally be used in combination with other prevention methods such as condoms and water based-lubrication, which have the added benefit of preventing sexually transmitted infections (STIs)."
To access free PrEP at TEN81, clients must first call 012 430 3272 to make an appointment to see a friendly nurse. They will have blood drawn, which will be sent to the laboratory to test for liver function and HIV. Once the results are received from the lab, and a client is HIV negative, they will be given an initial month's supply of PrEP. After a month, they will be required to return for another in-house HIV test and will then be provided with another three months' supply of the medication.
The TEN81 center is run by OUT LGBT Well-being, which has more than 20 years of experience in the field.
QUICK PrEP FACTS
What is PrEP?
PrEP is a new, safe, HIV prevention method, in the form of a pill, for HIV-negative people to reduce the risk of becoming infected.
How often must I take it?
PrEP must be taken daily on an ongoing basis at around the same time of the day. PrEP requires strict adherence to be effective.
How effective is it?
HIV-negative people who take PrEP every day can lower their risk of HIV infection by more than 90%.
Can I take it for just one night?
No, PrEP must be taken on an ongoing daily basis to be effective.
Can I stop taking PrEP once I start?
Yes, you can stop using PrEP at any time, but you will then no longer be protected.
Are there side effects?
Some people may get mild side effects (such as nausea, headache, tiredness, diarrhoea, depression, abnormal dreams, vomiting, rash, problems sleeping and changes in appetite.) These side effects, when they happen, usually go away after a few weeks.
Can I stop using condoms when using PrEP?
PrEP is very effective in preventing HIV infection but using it together with condoms and water based lubrication is recommended. Remember, condoms also help prevent other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), which PrEP does not.
How much will PrEP cost me?
If you source your PrEP from TEN81 it won't cost you anything! Our service is free.
Where can I get it?
If you are in the Pretoria / Gauteng area call the TEN81 Centre on 012 430 3272 or visit www.1081.co.za. PrEP for MSM can also be sourced from Health4Men in Johannesburg and Cape Town (visit www.health4men.co.za).