HIV PrEP (Pre-exposure prophylaxis)

What is HIV PrEP (Pre-exposure prophylaxis)?

HIV, the deadly virus that causes AIDS, is arguably one of the world’s most serious global health challenges. But there is a worldwide commitment to stopping new infections and ensuring that every person has access to HIV prevention and treatment services. In recent years, major global efforts have been put in place to help address the HIV epidemic, and despite some challenges, there has been significant progress. 

PrEP, commonly known as Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, is a preventive drug that is offered to an individual who is at a greater risk of becoming infected with HIV. It is usually prescribed to be taken daily to significantly reduce your risk of becoming infected with HIV. When administered daily, research has proven that PrEP can effectively reduce your risk of contracting HIV by nearly 99% from sex and more than 74% from drug injections. 

If used daily, PrEP is incredibly effective in preventing a person who is HIV negative from acquiring HIV from both injection drug users and sex partners who are already infected with HIV. However, it is imperative to note that PrEP is relatively less effective when not used compliantly. Also, since PrEP only offers protection against HIV, you are highly advised to use condoms to protect yourself against other STDs. 

How does PrEP work? Is it similar to a vaccine?

Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis works very differently from a vaccine. Whereas a vaccine helps your system to fend off infection by building antibodies, PrEP, on the other hand, helps your body to prevent both the occurrence and spread of HIV in your body. 

But, if you fail to take PrEP daily, there are chances that it may not help your system to block the occurrence and spread of the virus. If you suspect a recent suspect exposure to HIV, click here for Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP). 

Should I consider using PrEP?

Generally, this medication can be useful for people who:

  • Are having multiple sexual partners
  • Having a partner who is HIV positive

If your partner has been proven to be HIV positive, and you would want to get pregnant, PrEP can be a great option. This is because it is highly effective at protecting both you and your unborn young one from contracting HIV when you are trying to get pregnant, during pregnancy as well as during breastfeeding period.

Always to speak to a healthcare professional regarding the use of PrEP.

What is the efficacy of PrEP?

As we previously mentioned, this medication can be incredibly effective at preventing HIV infection, but only if taken daily and used as prescribed by the doctor.

When used daily, studies have revealed that it can potentially reduce the risk of contracting HIV by nearly 99% from intercourse and by more than 74% from injection medication users.
However, it should be noted that it doesn’t offer protection against other sexually transmitted diseases. This is why you are strongly advised to practice safe sex at all times.

Is it safe? And what about any notable side effects?

PrEP is a safe drug and one that doesn’t result in any significant side effects. However, just like any other type of drug, it has a few side effects that may include nausea and vomiting. 

What should I expect when I visit the doctor?

When you are on this medication, you will have to visit and follow up with your doctor regularly. The doctor will give you baseline blood tests to examine your liver and kidney blood test functions.

How will I be taking PrEP?

There are various ways through which you can take PrEP, and you’ll need to consult your doctor to recommend the best possible way that suits your lifestyle.  

 The most common regimen includes daily PrEP, holiday and on-demand regimens. 

How will I need to use PrEP?

You should always stick to your doctor’s prescription instructions when taking this medication. Your doctor may advise you to stop using it in scenarios such as:

  • You are likely to forget using the pill daily, or you have other better and suitable options to protect yourself against HIV infection.
  • There is a change in your lifestyle that significantly reduces your risk of contracting the virus.
  • You are likely to experience extreme side effects from the use of the medication that may interfere with your normal life, or experience abnormal blood tests as a result of a reaction from the medicine.

Would it be appropriate to take PrEP even after being exposed to HIV?

This medicine should only be used by individuals with constant ongoing great risk of contracting HIV.  

If you have been recently exposed to HIV through needles, during intercourse, or through any other way, you are advised to consider Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP).  

PEP should be taken as soon as possible after your exposure to potential HIV infection. It is generally offered within the first few days of possible HIV exposure. 

 

Our providers will be offer you advice, monitoring, and support to ensure that you are taking this medication correctly for prevention against HIV.  

Also, read more about Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) here. 

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