Cape Town - In light of the month of STI (Sexually Transmitted Infections) and condom awareness, the City of Cape Town’s health department has launched an HIV preventative strategy for HIV negative residents.
Pre Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) is an anti-retroviral tablet to be taken on a daily basis for HIV-negative residents, that will prevent the contraction of HIV.
The City’s mayoral committee member for community services and health Patricia Van der Ross told IOL on Monday that PrEP is now available from 26 clinics across the city, and is free of charge.
Van der Ross added that residents will be given an HIV talk, an HIV test, and counselling, following their test results, before PrEP will be issued.
“Around 38% of South Africa’s population and 36% of all people living with HIV live in the five metropolitan districts of Cape Town, Ekurhuleni, eThekwini, Johannesburg and Tshwane,” according to a study published in 2021 titled ’Modelling of HIV prevention and treatment progress in five South African metropolitan districts’.
Those with STIs, including HIV, are often asymptomatic for a period of time before seeing the symptoms, which increases the risk of spreading viruses without their knowledge.
‘‘If taken correctly, on a daily basis, PrEP is very effective at 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,” Van der Ross urged residents in a statement on Monday.
PrEP is recommended to be used in conjunction with many other preventative strategies, such as lubricants, voluntary medical male circumcision, HIV testing, risk reduction counselling, antiretroviral therapy (ART) for those with HIV, and utilising male and female condoms.
Meanwhile, last week, data from the City revealed the use of male condoms dropped by nearly half in the 2020/2021 financial year – the second consecutive year reflecting a decline in male condom use.
Male condom use in Cape Town dropped from 30.6 million in the 2019/2020 financial year, to 16 085 200 in 2020/2021 financial year.