Supporting rape survivors to adhere to post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) to prevent HIV infection: The importance of psychosocial counselling and support

  • L Vetten
  • S Haffejee


Eleven years after it was first mooted in 1996, the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act (32 of 2007) came into effect in December 2007. Law-makers proudly lauded sections 28 and 29 of the Act, which set out how post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) to prevent HIV infection should be made available to rape survivors.* These clauses are, however, neither particularly novel nor innovative, Cabinet having already approved (in April 2002) the provision of antiretroviral drugs to prevent HIV infection following rape. Subsequent to Cabinet's decision, a few studies were conducted examining various facets of providing PEP as part of a health response to rape.1-4 In theory, these findings should have provided legislators with some insight into what was required by rape survivors from a PEP service, particularly in relation to psycho-social support. This was not the case, as we will show in this article, which draws on unpublished findings from 67 interviews with rape survivors† exploring their adherence to PEP.

Southern African Journal of HIV Medicine Vol. 9 (3) 2008: pp.24-21

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eISSN: 2078-6751
print ISSN: 1608-9693