PrEP: Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis
What is PrEP?
Pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, is a way for people who do not have HIV but who are at substantial risk of getting it 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. 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 consistently, PrEP has been shown to reduce the risk of HIV infection in people who are at high risk by up to 92%. PrEP is much less effective if it is not taken consistently.
PrEP is a powerful HIV prevention tool and can be combined with condoms and other prevention methods to provide even greater protection than when used alone. But people who use PrEP must commit to taking the drug every day and seeing their health care provider for follow-up every 3 months.
Who does PrEP work for?
PrEP has been shown to reduce the risk of HIV infection through sexual intercourse (for gay and bisexual men, transgender women, and heterosexual men and women) and drug injection.
How well does PrEP work?
Truvada for PrEP provides a significant reduction in HIV risk for HIV-negative individuals who take the pill every day as directed. If a daily dose is missed, the level of HIV protection may decrease. It only works if you take it. People who use PrEP correctly and consistently have higher levels of protection against HIV. It does not protect against other sexually transmitted infections (STI) or pregnancy and should still be used in conjunction with condoms. It is not a cure for HIV.
Is PrEP right for me?
PrEP may be right for you if you have a partner or partners known to be HIV-1 infected or are a gay, bisexual or other man who has sex with men in a high HIV prevalence area or social network and has one or more of the following conditions:
- a diagnosis of a bacterial sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the last year;
- exposure to an STI through a sexual network in the last year;
- 10 or more sexual partners in the last year;
- used methamphetamine in the last year;
- or had unprotected anal intercourse with a partner of unknown HIV-1 status with any of the factors listed above.
Why Take PrEP?
We tend to go through life thinking, “that will never happen to me”…until it does. Anyone who is sexually active is at risk of contracting HIV. HIV can lead to AIDS and even some cancers. But now there is a way to protect yourself. Taking PrEP once a day gives you over a 90% chance of living HIV-free. Combined with condoms for protection from other STIs, PrEP can help you have a safe sex life that YOU are in control of.
For more information about PrEP visit PrepDaily.org