Pre-exposure prophylaxis – or PrEP – has proved to be a game-changer in helping reduce the transmission of HIV in countries around the world. As it continues to support the introduction of PrEP among vulnerable populations in regions where HIV is epidemic, ICAP at Columbia University has released three new videos to promote the use of this lifesaving tool for preventing HIV acquisition.

Building on ICAP’s work to support the roll-out of PrEP services in Central America, the new videos focus on key populations in Guatemala and Panamá, showcasing the experiences of men who have sex with men and Trans women who have been using PrEP successfully to prevent infection with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

“High risk populations should be reached in many ways to ensure information about prevention opportunities. With this videos, we aim to  share information and inspire people to take action to protect themselves and others,” said Ricardo Mendizabal, MPH, ICAP Central America regional director. “These videos emphasize the benefits of PrEP for those at high-risk of HIV infection and encourage eligible people to take advantage of new interventions now available in these countries to provide them more control about their prevention as well as to support national efforts to bring the HIV epidemic under control.”

The videos were created with support from the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the participation of several local partners that promote the use of PrEP in Guatemala and Panamá.

In Panamá, ICAP produced two videos, both shot on location in Panamá City. One video features two Trans women – Alisson and Veronica – both of whom live lifestyles that put them at risk for HIV. PrEP has “helped me very much to feel much safer in my sexual encounters,” says Alisson in the video.

The second video produced in Panamá focuses on Keny, a self-described bisexual man, who tells the story of how a broken condom during a sexual encounter with an HIV-positive partner could have led to him becoming infected. Fortunately, he was taking PrEP and tested negative for HIV.

Like Alisson in the video about Trans women, Keny moved to Panamá from Nicaragua, highlighting the importance of HIV prevention for this immigrant population.

The video ICAP produced in Guatemala looks at both Trans women and men who have sex with men. Filmed in Guatemala City and the smaller city of Quetzaltenango, the video features the stories of three individuals. José Elias is a gay man in Guatemala city who explains that PrEP helps ensure that he is “at ease” in his sexual relations.  Daniel, from Quetzaltenango, is a gay man who has found PrEP helps him feel “safer and more stable.”  Also featured in Quetzaltenango is África, a Trans woman who has been taking PrEP for several months and notes that it lets her – and her community – feel more confident because they know they are protected.

“PrEP can make a real difference in the lives of people in Central America. by protecting at-risk people from acquiring HIV infection,” said Elaine Abrams, MD, senior research director for ICAP and the principal investigator for ICAP’s global projects in Central America. “We believe these videos will help spread the word that PrEP is a safe, very effective method for helping people at-risk to protect themselves from acquiring HIV infection and reduce transmission of HIV in their communities.”

Earlier installments of the Power of PrEP video series from ICAP have captured the experiences of key populations who have benefitted from taking PrEP throughout the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Nigeria, and Mozambique. Two of these videos won honors at the 7th Annual CUGH-Pulitzer Global Health Video Competition, held by the Colleges and Universities in Global Health (CUGH).

With support from PEPFAR through CDC, ICAP is working to introduce PrEP to an increasing number of communities affected by the HIV epidemic around the world. To support this lifesaving work, ICAP has developed a package of tools designed to help health care professionals provide PrEP to appropriate candidates in a safe and effective manner. These tools are available free of charge at: icap.columbia.edu/prep.

About ICAP

A major global health organization that has been improving public health in countries around the world for nearly two decades, ICAP works to transform the health of populations through innovation, science, and global collaboration. Based at Columbia Mailman School of Public Health, ICAP has projects in more than 40 countries, working side-by-side with ministries of health and local governmental, non-governmental, academic, and community partners to confront some of the world’s greatest health challenges. Through evidence-informed programs, meaningful research, tailored technical assistance, effective training and education programs, and rigorous surveillance to measure and evaluate the impact of public health interventions, ICAP aims to realize a global vision of healthy people, empowered communities, and thriving societies. Online at icap.columbia.edu

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