HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis trials: socio-economic and ethical perspectives for sub-Saharan Africa

  • Mpho Selemogo Nyangabgwe Referral Hospital, Private Bag 127, Francistown, Botswana


The advent of HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) as a HIV-prevention strategy has received optimistic support among HIV researchers. However, discourse on PrEP trials has tended to be dominated by the disputes arising between some activist groups and researchers about the research methodologies. Instead, this paper discusses other issues oftentimes neglected in discussions relating to PrEP trials. Specifically, I focus on the possible ethical implications and the potential impact of sub-Saharan Africa's socio-economic conditions on the promised benefits of PrEP trials for the region and the continent. I argue that the concept of PrEP as a affordable and practical HIV-prevention intervention presents challenges and questions that urgently need addressing as we await results from several ongoing trials. If research is undertaken with no plans on how the results of specific trials can render actual HIV-prevention-benefits — especially for the world's poor — then such endeavours risk being merely information-acquiring ventures.

Keywords: antiretrovirals; developing countries; ethical research; HIV prevention; PrEP; research methods; socio-economic factors; sub-Saharan Africa

African Journal of AIDS Research 2008, 7(2): 243–247

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1608-5906
print ISSN: 1727-9445