PrEP is a game-changer for gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM). It offers a powerful new tool in the arsenal against the spread of HIV.
The daily medication, which has been proven to be highly effective in preventing HIV-negative people from getting HIV, is now available for free at selected facilities in Johannesburg, Pretoria and Cape Town (and, at your cost, via a script from your GP).
All gay, bi and other MSM who are active on the dating scene, may have multiple partners or choose to have riskier sex should consider using this medication.
For many gay, bi and MSM internationally, using PrEP has become like taking their daily vitamins.
Of course, PrEP should ideally be used in combination with other prevention methods such as condoms and water based-lubrication, which have the added benefit of preventing sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
Here are some facts on PrEP:
1. What is PrEP?
PrEP is a new, safe, HIV prevention method, in the form of a pill, for HIV-negative people to reduce the risk of becoming infected.
2. How often must I take it?
PrEP must be taken daily on an ongoing basis at around the same time of the day. PrEP requires strict adherence to be effective.
3. How effective is it?
HIV-negative people who take PrEP every day can lower their risk of HIV infection by more than 90%.
4. Can I take it for just one night?
No, PrEP must be taken on an ongoing daily basis to be effective.
5. Can I stop taking PrEP once I start?
Yes, you can stop using PrEP at any time, but you will then no longer be protected.
6. Are there side effects?
Some people may get mild side effects (such as nausea, headache, tiredness, diarrhoea, depression, abnormal dreams, vomiting, rash, problems sleeping and changes in appetite.) These side effects, when they happen, usually go away after a few weeks.
7. Can I stop using condoms when using PrEP?
PrEP is very effective in preventing HIV infection but using it together with condoms and water based lubrication is recommended. Remember, condoms also help prevent other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), which PrEP does not.
8. How much will PrEP cost me?
If you source your PrEP from selected facilities in Johannesburg, Pretoria or Cape Town (see below) it won't cost you anything. If you get a script from your doctor / GP, it will cost between R200 and R550 per month.
9. Where can I get it?
If you are in the Pretoria / Tshwane area call the TEN81 Centre on 012 430 2081 or visit www.1081.co.za. In Johannesburg and Cape Town, contact the Health4Men clinic in Yeoville (011 648 7979) or in Woodstock (021 447 2844). Visit www.health4men.co.za.