Known as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), the medication, if taken daily as prescribed, has been proven to dramatically reduce the risk of HIV infection (by up to 92%).
WHO estimated, globally, that use of PrEP could reduce HIV incidence among MSM by 20-25%, averting up to one million new infections among this group over 10 years.
“We welcome this recommendation,” said OUT’s Director Dawie Nel. “We further urge the South African government to follow suit and to provide this medication to members of this higher risk group, when appropriate, through the public health sector.”
PrEP is not currently offered in public hospitals and clinics in South Africa, although MSM who can afford to pay for it may request a prescription from a private doctor. The use of PrEP will require regular HIV tests and monitoring.
“The reality, however, is that even private general practitioners may not be aware of PrEP and its appropriate use, highlighting the need for further mainstream education on the subject,” said Nel.
He further clarified that WHO’s somewhat controversial recommendation is not a blanket one for all gay men or MSM, as not all these men engage in risky sex.
“For example, PrEP may not be the right option for HIV negative MSM who are in monogamous relationships, those who don’t have anal sex or those who consistently and correctly use condoms,” explained Nel.
“PrEP, however, is definitely recommended for MSM who do not use condoms consistently and / or have many sexual partners and those in relationships in which one of the partners is HIV positive and the other negative,” he added.
For more information on PrEP and its use, members of the public are welcome to contact OUT’s clinic on 012 430 3272 or to e-mail email@example.com.
OUT LGBT Well-being OUT started in 1994 and has been active in legal reform for lesbian, gay and bisexual equality in South Africa. This includes working on the legalisation of same-sex marriage (in 2005) and hate crimes. OUT provides health and psychosocial services to LGBT people, including a clinic and HIV prevention work, conducts research and trains mainstream services to adequately meet the needs of their LGBT clients. OUT is registered with the Department of Social Development as a non-profit organisation. For more information please visit www.out.org.za or contact Dawie Nel on 012-430 3272 / firstname.lastname@example.org.