The Cuban government has begun to distribute pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) through a pilot program that began last month.
According to a report last week in Granma, the official newspaper of the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party, 28 people in Cárdenas, some 90 miles from Havana, have received PrEP since the program began on March 6.
The medication, which has proven to be 99% safe in preventing the transmissions of HIV, is being provided free of charge to those in need. Cuban officials are also pushing condom use to help prevent the spread of STIs such as gonorrhea, syphilis, and herpes.
According to the paper, the program is being run in conjunction with the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), an agency of the United Nations, is headed by Niura Pérez Castro, the head of the municipal program for prevention of STIs, HIV, AIDS, and hepatitis.
Granma also said a “multidisciplinary team” of specialists in Cárdenas will meet with those who are interested in receiving PrEP and determine whether they can participate in the program.
The Washington Blade reports:
The Cuban government launched the program less than three decades after it ended its policy of forcibly quarantining people with HIV/AIDS in state-run sanitaria.
Cuba in 2015 became the first country in the world to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis.
The National Center for Sexual Education, a Havana-based group directed by Mariela Castro, the daughter of former Cuban President Raúl Castro, has launched HIV/AIDS prevention programs that feature men who have sex with men and other members of the LGBTI community. CENESEX also distributes condoms and lube across the country.