The Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation has several studies for young women who want to prevent HIV by taking an oral pill, PrEP. PrEP stands for pre-exposure prophylaxis (‘prophylaxis’ means to prevent disease). Oral PrEP is a pill (Truvada) that is taken once a day to prevent HIV infection. The details of the 3P study are below, including who can join the study and how to apply.
What is PrEP?
PrEP is a new way to protect yourself from HIV. Taken every day, it helps you stay HIV free.
How does PrEP work?
If you have sex with someone with HIV and there is enough PrEP in your blood, it will stop HIV from spreading in your body. It’s kinda like the birth control pill—if you take a birth control pill every day, you won’t fall pregnant. If you take PrEP every day, you won’t get HIV. But the reverse is also true—if you don’t take birth control regularly, you might fall pregnant; if you don’t take PrEP regularly, you might get HIV.
Does it work?
Yes, several studies have found that people who take PrEP nearly every day are ~92% less likely to get HIV than those who don’t.
Is it safe?
Yes. One out of ten people might experience symptoms such as nausea in the first few weeks after starting PrEP, which are usually mild and go away after a couple weeks.
How can I try PrEP?
Anyone can buy PrEP for themselves at a pharmacy. You need to test for HIV before starting PrEP to make sure you don’t have HIV.
Young women age 16-25 can get PrEP for free if they join a DTHF PrEP study. If you stay around Crossroads, visit the DTHF Emavundleni Research Centre or if you are in Philippi, Nyanga, Lower Crossroads or Samora Machel, visit the Tutu Teen Truck to find out more.
Young women in Masiphumelele can join the 3P study, which is currently recruiting. The three ‘P’s’ stand for PrEP, Power and Pride. The purpose of this study is to learn more about young women’s choices whether or not to use PrEP and how those decisions are made.
DTHF is looking for 200 young women who want to try PrEP for 12 months. Half of them will be randomly assigned to receive R200 at their second, third and six month visits if their blood shows a high level of HIV protection, from taking PrEP regularly. To join 3P, you must be: female at birth, HIV negative, between age 16 and 25, having sex with a male partner, and intend to take PrEP.
What we know:
- PrEP is safe and it works
What we don’t know:
- What are the best ways to tell people about PrEP?
- Will people be interested in taking PrEP?
- Will knowing a partner’s HIV status influence decisions about prevention?
- Can incentives increase adherence to PrEP?
For more information on PrEP, look at our guide here.
Visit the research office at the DTHF Youth Centre (opposite Masiphumelele Secondary School) to find out if PrEP is right for you. What we will learn from this study will help us figure out the best way to offer PrEP to young women all over South Africa (and the world!) By participating in 3P, you can feel good about being part ‘of the generation to end HIV’.