Health activists from the Anova Health Institute and Cape Town based Health4Men have welcomed new research finding that a single pill can reduce the HIV infection risk among Men who have Sex with Men (MSM) but have urged gay and bisexual men to continue to be responsible in their sexual life.

The iPrEx results, published online by the New England Journal of Medicine, are seen as a constructive first step towards using antiretroviral treatment as part of prevention and have been cautiously lauded by US President Barack Obama.

According to the US]based National Institutes of Health, the study found that a daily dose of an oral antiretroviral drug taken by HIV]negative gay and other MSM was safe and reduced the risk of acquiring HIV infection by an average of 43.8 per cent. Among those who were 90% or more consistent in their daily use of the pill, the HIV risk was reduced by roughly 73 percent.

gWhile we are encouraged by these findings, we appeal to MSM and gay men to continue using condoms and water]based lube and to reduce their number of sexual partners. It would be premature for MSM to attempt to use antiretroviral medications (ARVs) as prevention against HIV infection,h said Glenn de Swardt of Health4Men, emphasising that considerably more research is needed before such drugs can be used as a viable prevention strategy. gWe urge men to continue enjoying responsible sex,h he said.

The study was conducted in 11 locations around the world including Cape Town in South Africa, the United States, Peru, Brazil, Ecuador and Thailand.

Anova and Health4Men, funded by USAID/PEPFAR, said that they were privileged to have supported the research team in Cape Town. gWe congratulate Professor Linda]Gail Bekker, her team and the men who participated in this significant study. We look forward to further collaboration in future,h said de Swardt.

While the study explored the use of ARV medication to prevent HIV infection, referred to as preexposureprophylaxis (PREP), Health4Men and the Pretoria-based OUT currently supply free post]exposure prophylaxis (PEP) to MSM following high]risk exposure to the HI virus. Significantly, PEP must be initiated within 72 hours of the exposure.

MSM are at an increased risk of contracting HIV but remain under]resourced especially in Africa, due to homoprejudice and stigma. Preliminary results of a survey being conducted among MSM in township areas in Cape Town by Health4Men indicate that approximately one in three men in this group are HIV positive.

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