April 10, 2019 at 12:00 pm PDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Cuba begins distributing PrEP through pilot program

The Cuban government last month began to distribute PrEP through a pilot program in the city of Cárdenas. The program comes less than 30 years after the Cuban government forcibly quarantined people with HIV/AIDS in state-run sanitaria. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

The Cuban government has begun to distribute PrEP through a pilot program that began last month.

Granma, the official newspaper of the Cuban Communist Party, last week reported 28 people in Cárdenas, a city in Matanzas province that is roughly 90 miles east of Havana, have received PrEP since the program began on March 6.

Granma reported the Cuban government has launched the program in collaboration with the Pan-American Health Organization, which is headquartered in D.C. Granma also said a “multidisciplinary team” of specialists in Cárdenas will meet with those who are interested in receiving PrEP and determine whether they can participate in the program.

The Cuban government launched the program less than three decades after it ended its policy of forcibly quarantining people with HIV/AIDS in state-run sanitaria.

Cuba in 2015 became the first country in the world to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis.

The National Center for Sexual Education, a Havana-based group directed by Mariela Castro, the daughter of former Cuban President Raúl Castro, has launched HIV/AIDS prevention programs that feature men who have sex with men and other members of the LGBTI community. CENESEX also distributes condoms and lube across the country.

Ignacio Estrada Cepero, the founder of the Cuban League Against AIDS who now lives in Miami with his wife, Wendy Iriepa Díaz, a transgender woman who once worked with CENESEX, are among those who continue to criticize Mariela Castro. Other independent LGBTI activists with whom the Washington Blade has spoken insist they face harassment or even arrest if they criticize Mariela Castro and/or the Cuban government.

Access to the website of Tremenda Nota, an independent online magazine that is the Blade’s media partner in Cuba, remains blocked on the Communist island.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Los Angeles Blade. Follow Michael

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