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Pre-exposure prophylactics, also known as PrEP, are drugs that can prevent one from being infected with HIV.

With their rollout to the general public in May this year, Joan Thatiah asks if PrEP will take the place of the other three pillars of anti-HIV infection measures.

“Suzie is a beautiful woman with many lovers: Edwin sets the rhythm of the week. When broke, old Micky chases away her blues. And David the ex is on speed dial for personal emergencies. Suzie doesn’t know that Edwin parties recklessly, David is HIV positive and she is not the only fly in old Micky’s web. Suzie doesn’t always use condoms. She is not safe, she also needs PrEp.”

This is part of the script of an advert that has been running on YouTube, promoting the May 2017 Kenya rollout of the pre-exposure prophylactic drug (PrEP) as a new way to prevent HIV infections. The drug is called Truvada, and Kenya is the second African country after South Africa to embrace it.

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Peninah mwangi is the executive director of the Bar Hostesses Empowerment and Support Programme

 I studied sociology and literature at university. After graduation, as I was job searching, I managed a pub for a relative. It was here that I came face to face with the violence that women who work in bars endure. I saw women being grabbed by customers, male customers refusing to pay bills or taking a lot of drinks and declaring that they would only pay if the woman agrees to go home with him.The day that I resolved to do something, a policeman had come in to drink and when the waitress asked him to pay, he dragged her out, bundled her into the boot of a car and went and locked her up in a cell. I knew that had to do something. I gathered the hostesses and we stormed the police station. We took the matter up with the station OCS and the officer was reprimanded. That was when I knew that together, we had the power. That was 19 years ago. Today I work with bar hostesses, sex workers and young women. They are most vulnerable to acts of violence and HIV infection. The numbers are disturbing. For instance, every three out of four people infected with HIV are young women. How can we ignore that?

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