It may sound like a popular burn and shaving cream, but PrEP presents a solution for something far more pressing. Pre-exposure prophylaxis is a preventative treatment (the meaning of prophylaxis) to be taken by those who don’t have HIV/ Aids, but are at significant risk of being exposed to this virus that continues to ravage South Africa.
While our national Aids treatment programmes are progressing impressively, Statistics SA puts the HIV prevalence for those aged from 15 to 40 at an alarming one in five. The rate among young women is nearly four times greater than that of men their age. This is according to Avert, a charity that provides information on HIV/Aids.
Now, PrEP is poised to change that, and bring protection to anyone who feels at risk. It’s a cocktail of two antiretrovirals (ARVs) taken as a single combination pill that dramatically cuts your chances of contracting HIV/Aids when taken daily. The ARVs target the virus and prevent it from making copies in your T cells, a type of white blood cell that plays a key role in immunity. This prevents HIV from spreading itself, much the way anti-malarial pills prevent malaria.