Anti HIV pill introduced in Chile to battle epidemic

SANTIAGO – Given Chile’s HIV crisis, the Ministry of Health has included the pre-exposure prophylaxis pill (PrEP) in the HIV prevention program. The pill will be distributed without cost to users not only to Chileans but also foreigners, starting from 2019. The pill must help decrease the staggering numbers of HIV victims in the country.

Due to the concerns over the explosion of new HIV cases in Chile, the Ministry of Health will include the pre-exposure prophylaxis pill (PrEP) in its action plan to fight HIV. Authorities will distribute the pill for free starting from the first quarter of 2019.

HIV PrEP became part of the national anti-HIV plan in May 2018. It is prescribed as a daily dose and can reduce the risk of infection by over 90%.

Dr Carlos Beltrán, president of national AIDS corporation and counselor to the Ministry of Health highlighted that the drug will be handed out for free not only to Chileans but also to foreigners living in the country.

He also cautioned in El Mercurio newspaper that “the implementation of this plan and the delivery of a quick HIV detection test have been slower than expected due to the lack of infrastructure.”

Distribution to high-risk groups

Primary recipients of the drug are high-risk groups such as people who test negative, those who have unprotected sex, those who have had more than one sex partner over the last six months, and those who have a partner that has tested positive (and is not undergoing treatment).

People who have caught an STD over the last year and sex workers will also get the pill. According to protocol, beneficiaries must do follow-up HIV tests every three months.

This new program is crucial, since according to UNAIDS, Chile is among the 10 countries with the highest increase of HIV infections. Just in September, 5201 new HIV cases were diagnosed in the country, a 21% increase compared with same period last year.

Read also:

HIV epidemic in Chile: 2019 campaign will focus on migrants

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