As a part of Engage Men’s Health’s #PrEPup campaign, two of South Africa’s most beloved openly gay celebrities have come out in support of this revolutionary preventative measure against HIV infection.
MetroFM presenter, Bujy Bikwa, and YouTube sensation and star of The Queen on Mzansi Magic, Moshe Ndiki are the faces of the campaign, which promotes the use of pre-exposure prophylaxis, or just PrEP for short, among gay and bisexual men, and other men who have sex with men.
“This means a lot to me! It is much more influential when someone who is gay passes the message on to other gay people, and society at large, to educate them and make them more aware. It’s always good to know that we are safe, generally as human beings but also in our relationships when partaking in sexual activities with our partners. It’s one thing to not feel free outside because of societal issues but it’s another to not feel free in your own bedroom as well because of the fear of HIV,” said Ndiki, who recently became engaged to his partner, Phelo Bala.
Radio personality Bikwa agrees that PrEP – which has been shown to be 99 percent effective in preventing the contraction of HIV when taken daily – has made it more simple than ever before to protect oneself against the virus.
“This is a revolution! For decades we have been fighting for the right to breathe, the right to exist and most importantly to live a longer inspirational life. PrEP means that as a gay man you can protect yourself and not wait to be infected by the virus. A pill a day and you do life!”
According to Dawie Nel, the director of Engage Men’s Health, which offers free and confidential health services to gay, bisexual and other MSM in the Johannesburg, Nelson Mandela Bay and Buffalo City metros, the vocal support of media personalities like Bikwa and Ndiki go a long way in getting the important message of prevention across.
“Stigma, fear and lack of awareness are hampering the fight against HIV. Having proudly gay personalities speaking out not only helps educate the public about PrEP, but also makes a significant dent in the shame that many MSM feel about their sexual behaviour or identity. Lifting this stigma makes it more likely that they will seek out welcoming services like Engage Men’s Health,” says Nel.
The annual Feather Awards, which is set to take place on 17 October, has also come aboard as an advocate for the use of PrEP, and will, together with Ndiki and Bukwa, be sharing this message on their social media platforms.
To find out more about acquiring PrEP, or if you’d like to make use of the many other services this organisation provides, contact your nearest Engage Men’s Health branch. The medication and all other services are provided totally free of charge.