South Africa approves PrEP

A quick post to note some excellent news from South Africa…

The Medicines Control Council announced that it has approved the use of once daily oral tenofovir and emtricitabine as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV. This makes South Africa the third country in the world to approve PrEP after the US and France.

Though many of the news stories are referring to the brand name Truvada, the approval is not for a specific branded pill but for the combination of the drugs in Truvada, which are available in generic form at greatly reduced cost in South Africa.

Exciting as this news it, it is only the first step towards making PrEP widely available in that country. Enormous hurdles remain:

Yet with this vital new development in the fight against Aids it is now more crucial than ever that remaining barriers to accessing PrEP are removed. Fundamentally this means educating South Africans that PrEP exists and may help them personally and making sure that PrEP can be feasibly delivered in public healthcare settings.

Around the world we know that knowledge about PrEP is still limited. We must make sure in South Africa that all people at risk of HIV are told accurately what PrEP can do, how it should be taken and where it can be accessed.

Equally, we must make sure that nurses have the necessary skills and tools to be able to roll out PrEP in public healthcare settings across South Africa. South Africa’s Anova Health Institute, in collaboration with the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation, is currently implementing the largest state sector housed demonstration project for the use of PrEP. This project, taking place in Cape Town and Johannesburg, will gain the vital experience necessary to enable the department of health to take PrEP to scale.