Original Research

Be legally wise: When is parental consent required for adolescents’ access to pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP)?

Ann Strode, Catherine M. Slack, Zaynab Essack, Jacintha D. Toohey, Linda-Gail Bekker
Southern African Journal of HIV Medicine | Vol 21, No 1 | a1129 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajhivmed.v21i1.1129 | © 2020 Ann Strode, Catherine M. Slack, Zaynab Essack, Jacintha D. Toohey, Linda-Gail Bekker | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 13 July 2020 | Published: 10 November 2020

About the author(s)

Ann Strode, School of Law, College and Law and Management Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa; and, HIV/AIDS Vaccines Ethics Group, School of Applied Human Sciences, College of Humanities, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
Catherine M. Slack, HIV/AIDS Vaccines Ethics Group, School of Applied Human Sciences, College of Humanities, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
Zaynab Essack, School of Law, College and Law and Management Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa; and, Center for Community-Based Research, Human and Social Capabilities Division, Human Sciences Research Council, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
Jacintha D. Toohey, School of Law, College and Law and Management Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
Linda-Gail Bekker, The Desmond Tutu HIV Centre, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa


Share this article

Bookmark and Share

Abstract

Background: South African adolescents (12–17 years) need an array of prevention tools to address their risk of acquiring the life-long, stigmatized condition that is HIV. Prevention tools include pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). However, service providers may not be clear on the instances where self-consent is permissible or when parental consent should be secured.

Aim: To consider the legal norms for minor consent to PrEP using the rules of statutory interpretation.

Setting: Legal and policy framework.

Results: We find that PrEP should be interpreted as a form of ‘medical treatment’; understood broadly so that it falls within the ambit of one of consent norms in the Children’s Act. When PrEP is interpreted as ‘medical treatment’, then self-consent to PrEP is permissible for persons over 12 years, if they have the mental capacity and maturity to understand the benefits, risks, social and other implications of the proposed treatment. Currently, PrEP is only licensed for persons over 35 kg. Reaching the age of 12 years is a necessary but not sufficient criteria for self-consent and service-providers must ensure capacity requirements are met before implementing a self-consent approach. Decisional support and adherence support are critical.

Conclusions: We recommend that service-providers should take steps to ensure that those persons who meet an age requirement for self-consent, also meet the capacity requirement, and that best practices in this regard be shared. We also recommend that policy makers should ensure that PrEP guidelines are updated to reflect the adolescent consent approach articulated above. It is envisaged that these efforts will enable at-risk adolescents to access much needed interventions to reduce their HIV risk.


Keywords

parental consent; self-consent; HIV; prevention; minors’ capacity

Metrics

Total abstract views: 190
Total article views: 127


Crossref Citations

No related citations found.