If you are HIV-negative but at risk of contracting HIV, you can prevent being infected by taking the Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis medication (PreP).
HIV-negative people who take PreP daily can lower their risk of HIV infection by up to 90%. Those who are already HIV-positive, however, need to be on anti-retroviral treatment for the rest of their lives to stay healthy.
For PreP to work effectively, an HIV-negative person needs to take it once a day at roughly the same time. It takes up to seven days for a person to be protected from HIV when they start PreP.
PreP requires strict adherence to daily medication and regular HIV testing. If you missed taking the pill at your regular time, you need to take it as soon as possible, and then continue to take it as before.
Where possible, this pill should be used together with other HIV prevention methods, such as using a condom when engaging in sexual activities.
PreP only offers protection against HIV. It does not protect you from other sexually transmitted infections or pregnancy.
When taking PreP, you may experience mild side-effects, such as nausea, headaches, tiredness, vomiting and depression. These side effects usually disappear after a few weeks.
For more information about PreP, visit your nearest healthcare centre.
This information was supplied by the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health.