None of the rape survivors given antiretroviral drugs by Sunninghill Hospital has become HIV-positive, according to Dr Adrienne Wulfsohn, who heads the Sandton hospital's accident and emergency unit.
Sexual-assault survivors who come to Sunninghill's Albertina Sisulu Rape Crisis Centre within 72 hours of being attacked are offered a three-day course of the antiretroviral drug Combivir if they consent to an HIV test and test negative.
They are then advised to buy their own Combivir (a combination of AZT and 3TC) for a further 28 days at a cost of R900. Despite the poverty of many patients - most of whom are from Alexandra, Diepsloot and Zevenfontein - it's amazing how many of them manage to raise the money, said
Wulfsohn. We have been offering antiretroviral drugs since 1998, she added.
We have seen about 630 patients. About 68% to 70% of the patients return six weeks after their assault for a check up, and about 50% return after three months. No one we have seen has
The crisis centre treats about 50 women and children free of charge each month as part of the Netcare group's service to communities,
Wulfsohn pointed out. The cost of fully treating a sexual-assault case is about R8 500.
The Netcare clinics in Gauteng offering this service pro bono cost the group about R2,3-million last year, said
Wulfsohn. The Medicines Control Council has not approved Combivir for use after sexual assault, so the patients have to sign a consent form which explains that they might still get HIV.
Source: Health-E, 3 July 2001