Brazil Introduces PrEP Pill to Combat HIV


Graphic by Samuel Kim

Janet Song and Samuel Kim

In response to the sudden rise of HIV cases, Brazil is offering a new drug to prevent infection of the disease among its citizens.


Brazil is now the first Latin American country to introduce Truvada, a pill part of the PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) treatment method. Through a deal with American drug manufacturer Gilead Science, the Brazilian Health Ministry will distribute the pill to thirty five public health clinics in twenty two cities, at the cost of 75 cents per dose. That is only a small portion of its cost in the United States, where $1600 makes up a month’s supply.


The drug’s arrival in Brazil offers new hope in its HIV crisis, particularly with the rise of cases among young men and other high-risk groups. PrEP medicines will be available to eligible demographics, including prostitutes, transgender individuals, gay men, and people with partners that have HIV.


Experts say the benefits of the pill will be that unlike condoms, it doesn’t require a partner’s consent, allowing users to be in full control of their own health. The drug’s availability, as officials hope, will encourage Brazilians to input HIV protection into their daily routines.


However, critics argue that the amount of medication is simply inadequate for Brazil’s population and barely helps the urban population of the country. Although the 3.6 million pills the Brazilian government purchased may seem substantial, in reality only 26,000 people can be adequately treated with such amounts of medication.


Nevertheless, there are Brazilians that have expressed hope and are relieved that the government is taking a greater role in resolving this public health crisis. The Brazilian government’s initiative in the HIV/AIDS epidemic aims to head towards the right direction. However, much remains to be seen regarding HIV’s future in Brazil.