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Jury out on using ARV prophylaxis (Mail & Guardian)

The guidelines were developed by a panel of microbiologists, clinicians, virologists, pharmacists and community representatives affiliated to the South African HIV Clinicians’ Society.  

Several recent studies have revealed that, if Truvada pills, which contain the ARVs tenofovir and emtricitabine, are taken regularly, they can reduce the risk of men who have sex with men of acquiring HIV by up to 72.8%.

Prep is part of a movement based on the use of ARVs to protect vulnerable groups who are consistently exposed to HIV. In “discordant” couples, where one partner is HIV positive and the other negative, the uninfected person is at a high risk of contracting HIV if condoms are not always used, particularly if the ­positive partner has a large amount of the virus in his or her blood or sexual fluids because he or she is not yet on ARVs.

HIV-infected people’s chances of infecting their sexual partners with HIV are significantly lower if they are using ARVs, as the medication reduces the amount of virus in their bodies. Men who have sex with men are particularly vulnerable, and HIV infections are on the increase in this group, despite awareness of the effectiveness of condoms. 

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