Are you PrEPared for the Year?

By: Lissilanne Silva (@lissilanne)

The year just started. New resolutions are being drawn. Do yours include keeping your sexual health in check? Are you PrEParing yourself for the months ahead?

If you’re not familiar with PrEP – Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is a medication that can help prevent HIV transmission. It is taken daily by individuals who are at high risk of contracting HIV, such as people who have multiple sexual partners or who are in a sexual relationship with an partner who has a detectable viral load or unknown HIV status. This is one of the greatest advances to prevent transmission of HIV, since for many years such type of preventive medicine wasn’t available.

PrEP is highly effective at reducing the risk of HIV transmission and has been shown to be an important tool in the fight against HIV. However, despite its effectiveness, PrEP use remains low in certain communities, particularly among migrant populations in Europe. Migrants may face barriers to accessing PrEP due to language barriers, lack of insurance and lack of knowledge about the medication.

There are some steps that might increase the uptake of PrEP, such as providing education and awareness about PrEP and its effectiveness in preventing HIV transmission. This can be done through community-based organizations or through partnerships with migrant-led organizations. It is also important to ensure that information about PrEP is provided in a language that is accessible to migrants and that cultural sensitivity is taken into consideration.

Another action might be addressing the accessibility of the medicine for migrant populations. This can include providing PrEP at reduced or no cost, as well as ensuring that there are enough healthcare providers who are trained to prescribe and monitor PrEP use. It is also important to address any legal barriers that may prevent migrants from accessing PrEP, such as immigration status or, in the case of some countries, lack of insurance.

Additionally, providing education and resources for safer sex practices, such as using condoms, remains critical to reduce the risk of HIV and other STIs. This might include providing free condoms and promoting their use, as well as providing education about the importance of regular testing for HIV and other STIs.

On the other hand, stigma surrounding HIV and PrEP sadly remains prevalent. Reducing (or eliminating) this factor also includes sharing the realities of people living with HIV and the effectiveness of ART in managing the virus.

But now the year is 2023 and we can write a better page of our story, right?  Shall we then include zero tolerance for any sort of discrimination and promote PrEP use among all key populations, including wide access to sexual health services for migrant communities in Europe?

Mi-Health Europe is surveying the levels of PrEP awareness and uptake among migrants in Europe, as this is an important step in reducing HIV transmission and improving the overall health of our communities. We believe that access through education, resources and addressing barriers to access, it is possible to increase PrEP use and reduce the burden of HIV among migrant populations. That´s is one of our wishes for 2023!

Visit us here and find out where you can access PrEP and other treatment support in your country.

Watch this space for updates on our Mi-Health HIV Partnership. Would your organization be interested in partnering with us?We would love to hear from you. Feel free to reach out at mihealth@africadvocacy.org.

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