Cuba has begun the distribution of PrEP to individuals who may need it free of charge. According to Granma, a Spanish language Cuban media outlet, the project is an initiative of the Pan-American Health Organization which they have been contemplating for several years.
The head of the municipal program in the Cárdenas region in Matanzas is Niura Pérez Castro, an attorney, who oversees prevention of STI/HIV/AIDS and hepatitis. Pérez Castro says that the goal of the program is to combine therapy with the objective of changing risk factors for individuals who practice ‘risky’ behavior.
The pilot program, which began on March 6th has since approved 28 individuals for the free distribution of PrEP. Each person must meet be screened at the Center for Prevention and Control of STIs/HIV/AIDS and meet certain requirements prior to beginning.
There are currently 234 known cases of people living with HIV in Cárdenas and 30 new cases are registered each year.
According to UNAIDS, from 2010 to 2015, the HIV cases in Cuba increased by 90 percent. During the 1980s and ‘90s, Cuba famously quarantined all people living with HIV, turning sanitariums into outpatient clinics. This helped control the spread of HIV and in the ‘90s antiretroviral therapy (ART) became available to help with the treatment of HIV. By the mid-2000s, public health officials reported that 100% of all Cubans living with HIV were being treated with ART, which was only .2% of the population. By 2015, Cuba had become the first country in the world to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis.