Pharmacist’s insights on pill for HIV prevention
All you need to know about PrEP
Thursday, 24 November 2022, In the 34 years since World Aids Day was first commemorated on 1 December 1988, so much medical progress has been made that HIV is now highly manageable with chronic medication and today it is even preventable with pre-exposure prophylaxis, otherwise known as PrEP.
“In South Africa, PrEP pills are available on prescription to help people who are HIV negative and at substantial risk for HIV infection to prevent the person contracting the virus,” explains pharmacist Joy Steenkamp of Medipost Pharmacy, South Africa’s first national courier pharmacy.
“The medication, usually taken in the form of a daily pill, is highly effective when taken consistently as prescribed. An injectable form of PrEP is also available in some countries and will hopefully soon be introduced in South Africa. PrEP will not prevent other sexually transmitted infections or pregnancy and should always be used along with other safe sex practices including condoms, contraceptives and regular HIV testing,” she says.
“We are seeing more enlightened attitudes towards HIV than ever before and while there has been progress in reducing the stigma around the condition, we need greater awareness of the prevention measures available too.
To be most effective, PrEP oral medication should be taken at the same time each day and used for at least seven days continuously before potential exposure, and for at least 28 days after the last contact.
“The daily PrEP pill is helpful for serodiscordant couples, that is, where one partner is HIV positive and the other is HIV negative, to prevent the negative partner from becoming infected. There are however many reasons people may ask their healthcare provider to prescribe PrEP as part of a responsible approach to safeguarding their health.
“In South Africa, the highest number of new infections are among adolescent and teenage women, therefore parents and guardians should consider the protective benefits PrEP may offer during this high-risk time,” Steenkamp says.
“There are many factors that are considered when determining who may benefit from PrEP, and it’s important to understand that there are wider societal factors outside the individual’s control and personal choices that may contribute to a higher risk profile,” Steenkamp points out.
“PrEP pills are well tolerated by most people, and any mild side effects some people may experience will usually resolve within a few weeks. It can be used on an ongoing basis for many people, although your doctor will advise you based on your individual health and circumstances.
“Although it is up to pregnant women to determine their risk and decide for themselves, PrEP is safe to take during pregnancy and while breastfeeding if needed.”
Medipost Pharmacy ensures continuous and hassle-free reliable delivery of long-term and chronic medicines, including those for the prevention and management of HIV among many others, to any address in South Africa so it is easy to adhere to treatment as prescribed.
Medipost Pharmacy currently dispenses chronic medication for almost 800 000 patients in total countrywide.
People registered with Medipost Pharmacy’s chronic medication delivery service or self-care medication online shop, shop.medipost.co.za, have free access to telephonic clinical advice from pharmacists and pharmacist’s assistants in their preferred official South African language.
This service is available from Monday to Friday, 08h00 to 17h00, and Saturdays between 08h00 and12h00 for advice regarding dosage, possible side effects or interactions and other queries relating to medication dispensed by Medipost Pharmacy.
“As always, patient privacy is paramount, so the outer packaging does not show what the medicine parcels contain, and confidentiality is guaranteed,” Steenkamp says.
“Through better understanding HIV, the importance of adhering to chronic medicine and making responsible use of all the prevention measures available, including PrEP, we can turn the tide on newly acquired HIV infections and ensure those living with HIV have reliable access to the medicines they need to remain healthy and well.”
For more information, please visit www.medipost.co.za.
For media enquiries, contact MNA at the contact details listed below.
Issued by: Martina Nicholson Associates (MNA) on behalf of Medipost Pharmacy
For media enquiries contact: Martina Nicholson, Meggan Savilleor EsteneLotriet-Vorster
Telephone: (011) 469 3016