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Let's talk about HIV. More specifically, PrEP, or Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, a medication that can significantly lower the risk of HIV infection.

PrEP: What is it?

PrEP can significantly reduce the risk of infection in those who are HIV negative and exposed to the virus. It involves taking a single daily dose, made up of 2 antiretroviral medications, and has been shown to dramatically decrease infection in both drug users and those who are sexually active.

In order for PrEP to be effective, it must be taken correctly. If taken correctly, PrEP can offer up to 99% protection from the HI virus, though it does not prevent infection from other STIs. Therefore, maximum protection comes from the combined use of condoms and PrEP.

Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis does not offer immediate protection from HIV; it takes 7 days of dosing to protect against HIV infection in the anus, and up to 20 days to protect against vaginal acquisition of the virus.

How can I get PrEP?

PrEP is available at pharmacies nationwide, though it requires a prescription from your GP and for you to undergo both an HIV and kidney function test.

The original drug, Truvada, will cost R600 per month, while a generic version will put you back R250 per month.

You can also get PrEP at no charge, if you fall into one of two categories:

  • sex workers
  • men who have sex with men (MSM)

PrEP is available to MSM and sex workers at certain state funded facilities. For MSM, PrEP can be acquired at:

  • Ivan Toms Centre for Men’s Health in Cape Town (021 447 2844)
  • Health4Men at Yeoville clinic in Gauteng (011 648 7979 or 072 654 0816)
  • TEN81 in Pretoria (012 430 3272)

Sex workers can get PrEP from the Wits Reproductive Health & HIV Institute (WRHI) clinic in Hillbrow.

For more information, check out this website.

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