RISKS ASSOCIATED WITH NEW PREVENTION METHOD
By: Sibusiso Zindela
While the cure for HIV still seems to be far from being available, there are quite a few prevention and treatment methods available on the market.
PrEP which means Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, is a pill that is used by people who do not have HIV, but are at a high risk of catching the virus.
According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a person who gets the pill is someone that is HIV-negative and at substantial risk for HIV infection.
This includes anyone who is in an ongoing relationship with an HIV-infected partner, a gay or bisexual man who has had sex without a condom or been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection within the past six months.
To prevent HIV infection, they must take a pill every day. The pill contains two medicines that are also used to treat the virus.
Sibongile Magwaza who is a nurse at Prince Mshiyeni Hospital, said that people would rather use the common prevention method which is condoms than taking pills every day.
“In order for the PrEP to do it job, it must be taken every day. People don’t want to take pills every day, which is why we mostly recommend people to continue using condoms rather than
us pushing for PrEP,” said Magwaza.
Magwaza added that in special cases like when a woman is married and the husband does not want to use condoms, they offer the prevention pills.
“I’ve heard about PrEP and I think it a good protection against HIV, but I think it’s the same as being on ARVs because you also have to take pills every day.
I would rather just continue using condoms,” said a 23-year-old nursing student, Mphilisi Ndlovu.
However, Sibonelo Duma (23) said, “I would take them every day if it means I will be protected from the virus. I am surprised that most people don’t know about these pills,
especially here in South Africa when we have the highest number of people living with HIV.
I do use condoms, but we all make mistakes and that how most people fall victims to the virus,” he added.
This prevention method is still to reach many in this country.
Dr Iak Sheik, who is a family doctor, said that the reason why most people don’t know about the system is because it has not been advocated and with new systems there are always risks.
“The only time that I would recommend PrEP is when a couple is trying to have a baby and one partner is HIV positive,” Dr Sheik added.
Doctors still recommend the use of condoms