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AIDS Council Says Post-Exposure Prophylaxis Critical in Tackling HIV

Dr. Lisa Sterman holds a bottle of Truvada pills that she prescribes for about a dozen patients at high risk for developing AIDS, at her office in San Francisco, May 20, 2012.

The National AIDS Council (NAC) says although it supports the use of post exposure prophylaxis in the prevention of HIV infection after exposure to the virus, it encourages the use of condoms and protected sex as a way of fighting against HIV/AIDS.

Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) involves taking anti-HIV medications as soon as possible after one is exposed to the virus in order to reduce the chance of becoming HIV positive.

NAC spokesperson, Tadiwa Pfupa, told VOA Studio 7 in the event of sexual abuse such as rape, it is advisable to contact the nearest health center immediately so that one is put on post exposure prophylaxis to avoid contracting the virus.

"As the National Aids Council we continue to encourage people to use condoms rather than depend on post-exposure prophylaxis because it comes with a cost as these are medications that could be given to people who get infected by other means that are not deliberate,” said Pfupa.

She added that although post-exposure prophylaxis has been proven to be very effective it’s important for people to prioritize the use of condoms for HIV prevention.

According to statistics from Zimbabwe National Statistics Office, 42% of women who reported rape cases over the last six years were found to be HIV.

Women's rights groups in the country are calling for easier access to post-exposure prophylaxis, especially for rape victims, as a way of reducing the number of women that end up contracting HIV/AIDS after they are raped or exposed to the virus.

Pfupa said her organisation will continue to educate people on the benefits of using protection in the form of condoms when having sex as way of fighting HIV/AIDS.

She said in cases where someone is exposed to HIV or is not certain of their partner's status it is imperative that they seek immediate medical attention as the post exposure prophylaxis should be taken within 72 hours after being exposed to the virus.

Interview With Tadiwa Pfupa
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