Is Africa Ready for PrEP?

Published: March 29, 2011

One of the biggest breakthrough in HIV clinical research, since the outbreak of the epidemic 30 years ago, is the recent success in a clinical trial of a new HIV prevention approach based on the daily use of the antiretroviral drug Truvada by HIV negative person to prevent HIV transmission (Called PrEP, for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis).

The results of the iPrEX trial raised hope but also many questions and concerns as showed by the ensuing debate about what the next step should be. Divergences culminated with the Aids Health Foundation (AHF) petitioning the FDA not to consider Gilead’s request for a licence to use Truvada for the prevention of HIV infection and a joint counter response by a number of HIV advocacy organisations. Despite differences, the debate emphasises the importance of the discovery and confirms that we have a very vibrant community of both HIV advocates and clinicians passionate and determined to find a lasting solution to end the HIV epidemic.

But for me as an advocate and an African living in Europe, the most important thing on my mind is “Will Africa be able to access PrEP?” Providing ARV to HIV negative people in Africa needs to be considered in light of the challenge of accessing treatment in Africa, where more than 50% of HIV positive people in the world live (UNAIDS report).

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