HIV patient: Make PrEP available
Diana Roberts, who is HIV-positive, is hoping government will make Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEp) available to the public.
Roberts told Newsday this medication can save a lot of lives and spare families years of drawn-out trauma, stress and grief.
She made the comment at a REACH 'N Inc, TT Let Love Flow programme luncheon titled Victims to Victors, at the Woodbrook Youth Facility on Hamilton Holder Street on Sunday.
Sunday’s Newsday carried a story in which Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said PrEp "means that knowingly you are going to engage in some sort of behaviour that would cause you to be at a higher risk of getting HIV…
“This is not government’s policy. That is available in the private sector. It’s that simple.”
PrEp drugs allow people who may be at high risk for exposure to the virus to reduce their chances of contracting it.
Roberts, 32, who lives in Sea Lots, said PrEP should at least be made at a subsidised cost, as treatment for HIV/AIDS is expensive.
She said, “If HIV medication is not available in the hospital, I am not able to access treatment otherwise. It is too expensive.
“Providing this new drug will be helpful and will save the country.”
Roberts said she contracted the virus from someone she was in a relationship with, who failed to disclose his medical status.
“I found out when I became pregnant. If this drug was available then, I would not be in this position today.”
Roberts said people often discriminate against her and shun her.
“I cannot find a job. My family and community does not want anything to do with me. They say I should have known better.
“But how? I could not help falling in love with the man and trusting him.
"Unfortunately, the feeling was not the same.
“I thank God every day that my children did not contract the virus.”
Since then Roberts, a single parent, has had problems finding work and maintaining her family of six. She explained that the little employment she gets is barely enough to take them through the week.
She said to withhold the PrEP because of the reasons given by the minister is a step in the wrong direction.
“What if someone was raped? Would the minister say then that the person put themselves in harm’s way?
“We should be looking to protect each other, not play the blame game.”
"HIV patient: Make PrEP available"