View on Gender: A Menu of Choices of HIV Prevention

Published: May 28, 2014

Giving sex workers HIV drugs before they are at risk of infection — in a strategy called pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) — is showing promise as a public health strategy, a Guardian report highlighted recently. [1]

Female sex workers in insalubrious parts of the Kenyan city of Kisumu can often double their wages (to the equivalent of 24 US cents) if they agree to sex without a condom, putting themselves at risk of contracting HIV. Yet when they go to clinics the next day looking for drugs to fight a potential infection, they may be turned away due to social stigma, the Guardianreported. PrEP can potentially avoid this problem and, regardless, it’s more effective than post-exposure treatment.

But what’s less clear is how best to make these drugs available. Behavioural scientist Ana Wheelock, who is based at Imperial College London, United Kingdom, has spent several years investigating this question. [2] She says clinical trials have already proven that the treatment is effective, but what is now needed is to explore whether people will find the treatment regimes workable in real-life settings.

 

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