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Tuesday, August 16, 2022

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'Very effective' HIV preventive pill, PrEP, available at Cape Town clinics

The City’s Health Department is now offering pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), a daily tablet of antiretrovirals to be taken by HIV-negative people. File picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency(ANA)

The City’s Health Department is now offering pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), a daily tablet of antiretrovirals to be taken by HIV-negative people. File picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency(ANA)

Published Feb 16, 2022

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Cape Town - The City of Cape Town is now making a HIV preventive strategy available at its facilities for HIV negative people, to prevent them from contracting the virus.

The City’s Health Department is now offering pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), a daily tablet of antiretrovirals to be taken by HIV-negative people.

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The move comes during STI (Sexually Transmitted Infections) and Condom Awareness Week running from last Thursday to this Wednesday.

Mayco member for Community Services and Health Patricia van der Ross said if taken correctly, on a daily basis, PrEP is “very effective” in preventing HIV.

“Your sexual and reproductive health is your responsibility. Visit your nearest clinic with any concerns or questions, and do what is necessary to protect yourself and those you love.”

Symptoms of an STI may include vaginal discharge, penile discharge, ulcers on or around the genitals, and pelvic pain.

Those with an STI (even if asymptomatic) are at higher risk of contracting HIV, and those who are HIV positive with an STI are more likely to pass the virus on to others. Therefore the treatment of STIs is an important HIV preventive strategy, said the City.

Other ways to help prevent HIV infections include the use of condoms, lubricants, voluntary male circumcision, HIV testing, risk reduction counselling, and ART for HIV-infected partners.

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Precious Robinson, chief technical specialist at Right to Care, a non-profit organisation that supports and delivers prevention, care, and treatment services for HIV and TB, said PrEP is a drug that can lower the risk of HIV infection considerably.

“HIV prevalence in women aged 15-24 is nearly four times greater than in men the same age. The reason is that many are vulnerable, and gender-based violence remains a major challenge in South Africa. PrEP isn’t a long-term drug, but it helps someone stay HIV negative when they aren’t sure of their partner’s HIV status.”

Robinson said anyone who is sexually active and at high risk of contracting HIV and STIs, should go to their nearest health-care facility or GP and ask about PrEP.

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