PEP still off the media menu
DRUM magazine passes up on a golden opportunity to provide readers with vital practical information on sexual assault and HIV.
Last week DRUM published a reader’s story sent in by a young woman who has been raped multiple times, once by a man whose subsequent death was AIDS-related.
Although the woman’s story continues without any further mention of any steps taken to prevent HIV infection or to test for the virus, DRUM could have included an addendum of sorts, providing readers with supplementary information on HIV-preventative post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) and HIV testing.
HIV post-exposure prophylaxis is a 28-day course of ARVs taken by an HIV-negative person after possible HIV exposure in order to prevent infection. PEP is more effective the sooner it is initiated. PEP must be initiated within 72 hours after possible exposure or its efficacy drops significantly.
Articles like the one that appeared in the Mail&Guardian last year commented on the desperate lack of information and awareness around PEP for rape survivors, strengthening the case for the media’s involvement in circulating information on PEP.
In a society where sexual assault is alarmingly prevalent and one on ten people are living with HIV, it is of the utmost importance that people are empowered with information which will allow them to protect themselves from HIV in the event of sexual assault.
What the reader includes in her personal account is quite obviously her prerogative. And while it would be unethical for DRUM to change the reader’s story in any way, this submission represented an opportunity to furnish DRUM readers with much needed information.