The HIV prevention drug has been available on a number of pilot projects, but it’s the first time it’s being made accessible to the youth.

The HIV prevention drug, Truvada, has been made available to select South African universities. The Department of Higher Education and Training announced this plan as part of its HIV and Aids programme on Tuesday.

What is Truvada?

Truvada is an antiretroviral pill that reduces the risk of contracting HIV by at least 90% if taken daily. It’s made by Gilead Sciences Inc., and approved for healthy, uninfected people who are at high risk of contracting HIV. In healthy, uninfected people, the drug can thwart HIV’s ability to take hold in healthy cells and start an infection, by blocking the activity of an enzyme that the virus needs to replicate.

Is there any controversy around Truvada?

As with any drug, of course. There are some concerns over taking the drug correctly and whether knowing that there is a “safety net” in place will cause people to engage in more risky behaviour.

Overall, though, it’s a step towards preventing HIV marks a big step toward controlling the spread of HIV and AIDS.

At which South African universities will Truvada be available?

The drug will be available at seven different South African universities from specified campus health clinics. Nelson Mandela, Rhodes, Limpopo, Free State, Venda, Zululand and Vaal Technology are part of the project.

The data from the trials will be used to by the Department of Health to judge whether there is a demand for preventive treatment and whether people will use it.

Truvada has been introduced in South Africa in pilot projects for gay and bisexual men, and to some HIV-negative sex workers, but has not been made available to young people before.