South Africa Pilots HIV Prevention Injection

Open bottle of prescription PrEP Pills for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis to help protect people from HIV.

South Africa is expected to begin piloting the HIV prevention injection early next year as one of several projects that experts hope will reveal the answers to some of the biggest questions about the future of the shot – who will deliver the injection, where, and how to sell people on the idea that just six shots a year could protect them from HIV, writes Laura Lopez Gonzalez 

The Wits Reproductive Health and HIV Institute (Wits RHI) and the national health department are expected to begin providing the injections of the long-acting formulation of the antiretroviral cabotegravir to young women.

The South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) is expected to approve the HIV prevention shot for use in the country in early 2023. This after drugmaker ViiV Healthcare submitted its application for regulatory approval in late November 2021.

SAHPRA’s approval will spell out who can receive the HIV prevention shot and who can administer it, depending on how SAHPRA schedules or classifies the injection. In particular, many will be watching to see whether the injection will be made available to pregnant and breastfeeding people, who remain at high risk for contracting HIV in South Africa.

Truvada, the once-daily HIV prevention pill, is already available at more than 2,000 public sector sites nationwide. When taken correctly, it can reduce a person’s risk of contracting HIV by almost 99%.

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