PrEP: All you need to know

Pre-exposure prophylaxis PrEP is a way for people who do not have HIV but are at very high risk of getting HIV to prevent HIV infection by taking a pill every day. The pill brand name (Truvada) contains two medicines (tenofovir and emtricitabine) that are used in combination with other medicines to treat HIV.

PrEP is to be taken consistently for seven days in men and twenty-one days in women before exposure to be effective.

When someone is exposed to HIV through sex or injection drug use, these medicines can work to keep the virus from establishing a permanent infection.

When taken daily, PrEP is highly effective for preventing HIV. Studies have shown that PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV from sex by about 99% when taken daily.

Among people who inject drugs, PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV by at least 74% when taken daily. PrEP is much less effective if it is not taken consistently. As it only protects against HIV, condoms are important for the protection against other STDs.

Condoms are also an important prevention strategy if PrEP is not taken consistently.

The federal guidelines recommend that PrEP be considered for people who are HIV-negative who Have had anal or vaginal sex in the past 6 months and Have a sexual partner with HIV (especially if the partner has an unknown or detectable viral load)

Have not consistently used a condom, have been diagnosed with an STD in the past 6 months.

It is also recommended for people who inject drugs and have an injection partner with HIV, share needles, syringes, or other equipment to inject drugs (for example, cookers).

PrEP should also be considered for people who have been prescribed non-occupational post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) and report continued risk behavior, or have used multiple courses of PEP.

If you have a partner with HIV and are considering getting pregnant, talk to your doctor about PrEP if you’re not already taking it. The drug may be an option to help protect you and your baby from getting HIV while you try to get pregnant, during pregnancy, or while breastfeeding.

Also, PrEP involves daily medication and regular visits to a health care provider, it may not be right for everyone. And it may cause side effects like nausea in some people, but these generally subside over time. These side effects are not life-threatening. 

However, it is advisable to quit habits like smoking and drinking when on prep; as this in some cases, would antagonize its effect and might also cause hepatotoxicity, or nephrotoxicity.

Written by: Great Omoraka B.Pharm

Edited by: Ayuba Maigida B.Pharm.

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