As part of a combination prevention package, PrEP (or pre-exposure prophylaxis) is proving to be a key intervention to stemming the tide of new HIV infections, particularly those most at-risk for contracting the virus including people who inject drugs, men who have sex with men, transgender persons, sex workers, and prisoners. These groups, often referred to as ‘key populations’, face particularly high rates of new infections due to a host of cultural, economic, and structural risk factors. However, research around the world continues to show that when used within a continuum of HIV prevention services—including regular HIV testing, access to condoms, and reduction of risky behaviors—PrEP is a powerful tool for curbing the HIV epidemic.
Data from diverse population groups and locations demonstrate that when taken daily, PrEP is highly effective for preventing HIV from sex or injection drug use. In countries like Nigeria, which is facing the world’s second largest HIV epidemic,* the medication is a lifesaver for individuals who may tend to avoid health facilities because of longstanding stigma and criminalization of homosexuality, sex work, and drug use.
A new video from ICAP explores how one young Nigerian mother and sex worker harnesses the power of PrEP to keep her and her friends safe from contracting HIV. The video is part of a series that looks at how PrEP has helped individuals from key populations in several sub-Saharan African countries, including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, and Nigeria.
ICAP continues to build on lessons-learned in anti-retroviral therapy (ART) delivery to integrate PrEP into the routine HIV prevention, treatment, and care interventions it implements around the world. Though not a standalone solution to reducing the risk of HIV, ICAP’s PrEP programming provides another option for HIV-negative people to reduce their risk of becoming infected and help ensure that they live healthy lives for many years to come.
A global health leader since 2003, ICAP was founded at Columbia University with one overarching goal: to improve the health of families and communities. Together with its partners—ministries of health, large multilaterals, health care providers, and patients—ICAP strives for a world where health is available to all. To date, ICAP has addressed major public health challenges and the needs of local health systems through 6,000 sites across more than 30 countries.
*according to UNICEF, as reported on Avert.org.