File photo: The Department of Health made this announcement in a statement, following Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi's commitment in his budget speech.

Johannesburg - As of Wednesday (June 1, 2016), sex workers in selected sites around the country will for the first time be able to receive oral antiretrovirals as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).

The Department of Health made this announcement in a statement on Tuesday, following Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi's commitment in his budget speech in May that selected sex worker programmes around the country would offer PrEP in addition to other HIV preventions, and offer treatment upon diagnosis for those who are HIV-positive.

The Esselen Street Clinic in Hillbrow, SSWP Wellness Centre in Soweto and Sediba Hope Medical Centre in Tshwane will be the first sites providing the services.

Other centres are the TB/HIV Care Clinic in eThekwini, the North Star Alliance Trucker Wellness Centres in Musina, Pomona (Gauteng), Ngodwana (Mpumalanga), Pongola (KwaZulu-Natal), Upington (Northern Cape) and Hoedspruit (Limpopo).

“Combination prevention has been demonstrated to prevent new HIV infections. And, given the very high level of HIV infections in sex workers, this community needs additional protection,” according to ministry spokesman Joe Maila.

An estimated 20 percent of the 350 000 people annually infected with HIV in South Africa are connected with sex work, the department stated.

HIV prevalence among female sex workers is estimated to be 59.8 percent.

The Star