In its campaign to reduce HIV transmission in Thailand, the local Red Cross chapter has recently introduced a new pill that reportedly reduces the risk of transmission.
Last Thursday on World AIDS Day, the Thai Red Cross AIDS Research Center unveiled its campaign to minimize the HIV/AIDS infection rate by rolling out the administration of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to individuals who are at high-risk of HIV transmission, Thai News Bureau reported (via Bangkok Coconuts).
“PrEP can also be a viable preventative measure for those who do not always use condoms,” says Dr. Nittaya Panupak, of the Thai Red Cross’ prevention department. Those taking the pill are still advised to use condoms, however, as PrEP does not protect against other sexually transmitted diseases.
PrEP uses antiretroviral medicine in pill form to be taken daily to prevent people from acquiring HIV, according to UNAIDS. It has reportedly proven to be highly effective in HIV prevention an if taken daily, the medication can reduce the rate of transmission by up to 92%, clinical tests have showed.
PrEP is only given to those who are HIV-negative, who have undergone an initial HIV test and checks for other sexually transmitted infections. The check-up also measures how the liver and kidneys are functioning. The evaluations and testing are repeated every three months.
Bangkok-based Filipino Jonas Bagas is among those who visit Thai Red Cross Anonymous Clinic (TRCAC) in Bangkok to take his daily dose.
“One reason I started was because I had a sexual partner who was HIV-positive,” Bagas was quoted as saying.
The clinic, which actually began its PrEP project at the end of 2014, charges $1 a day for their supply of pills. The visit also includes the recommended counselling and health evaluations.
In the Philippines, NGO LoveYourself began a pilot project for PrEP, conducting regular check-ups, risk reduction and adherence counselling in November.
“We will embed PrEP education in the HIV testing process. So all those who are going through HIV testing in our clinics, which is about 60 to 100 people a day, will be given PrEP information,” LoveYourself Director of Learning and Development Chris Lagman said.