Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is not yet available at public hospitals in Mangaung. This is despite reports that the HIV prevention pills have been made available at more than 1 200 facilities around the country, which is a sharp increase from only 160 facilities last year.
PrEP is an HIV prevention method in which people who do not have the virus take HIV medicine daily, or for a limited amount of time, to reduce their risk of getting HIV if they are exposed to the virus. PrEP can stop HIV from taking hold and spreading throughout the body.
According to Free State Health spokesperson, Mondli Mvambi, the medication is available at local clinics and centres as these facilities are the focus of the department’s HIV prevention drive. “PrEP has been rolled out at all Free State Department of Health facilities and can therefore be accessed at all the facilities, including Mangaung clinics and community health care centres.
The focus for now is at clinics and community health care centres in the province. Hospitals are not yet included in the roll out,” he said. The number of public health facilities where people can access the medication has sharply increased in only six months from just over 150 facilities to 1 227 clinics and centres.
PrEP is one of the strategies used to reduce new HIV infections among vulnerable people, including young women among others. “All people at substantial risk of contracting HIV can access the service at all the clinics in the province. It is one of the strategies to reduce new HIV infections among key and vulnerable people.
This includes discordant couples, pregnant and breastfeeding women, men having sex with men, sex workers and their clients, transgender people, migrant workers, adolescent girls and boys, young women, and people who are using intravenous drugs,” explained Mondli. Anyone who feels they are at risk of contracting the HIV virus can also request for the service.