PrEPing Africa for Key Populations

Delane Kalembo

In a series of recent meetings engaging LGBT individuals and organizations in Sub-Saharan Africa, the subject of PrEP has been raised and received some discussion, but there has not been a dedicated forum that allowed advocates the time, space and resources to raise questions, gain a sense of the broader landscape and develop plans for how to build advocacy for PrEP alongside rights-based work and advocacy for other services related to sexual health.

A three-day consultation was hosted by AMSHeR in partnership with AVAC, Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation and MSMGF which brought together 80 stakeholders along with key resource people from sub-Saharan Africa to evaluate what is known about PrEP and come up with a strategy for PrEP advocacy in the continent but with focus on countries where PrEP can be realistically rolled out.The consultation meeting further provided a space learn on the recent PrEPration Asia with hopes to archive the following goals:

  • Create a space for dialogue on PrEP for MSM in Africa.
  • Explore what is known about PrEP and which countries are conducting demo projects with MSM.
  • Explore the pathways for implementation of the new WHO PrEP and ART guidelines for MSM in Africa.
  • Create a road map on how to scale-up access to and demand for PrEP among MSM in Africa and Africa MSM advocacy plan for the 12 months for PrEP access in Africa, including specific work around AIDS2016

One of the agreed-upon tactics was to ally with All “key populations”—those over-burdened and underserved communities—so that the push for PrEP for gay men is embedded within the demand for PrEP for all those at substantial risk. This would help avoid gay “exceptionalism” of which there are already reported rumblings.

Convincing national governments that PrEP for key populations would not be an added burden to already strapped health systems is key. To get around this, participants discussed the need for innovative service models that minimize impact on doctors, perhaps through nurse-led PrEP implementation, community-based delivery and self-testing. There’s also a need to tap existing providers such as STI clinics and reproductive health units. Activists at the meeting also discussed that another key way to convince governments of PrEP’s worth and desirability is through costing studies looking at models of test and start along with PrEP.

AMSHeR will be rolling out a continent-wide survey on PrEP in the coming months.#PrEP4Africa