Pre-exposure prophylaxis, also known as PrEP, is a medication taken once daily to prevent the development of HIV. It’s primarily intended for people who don’t have HIV, but have extremely high chances of contracting the disease. PrEP can reduce the possibility of catching HIV by up to 90 percent if used consistently.
Read on to learn more about PrEP medications and how they help lower the chances of contracting HIV.
How does PrEP work in preventing HIV?
The antiviral medications found in PrEP drugs are called nucleoside/nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs). These work to stop the virus from multiplying in your body. Before you start taking PrEP, and at least every 3 months after commencing medication, you will need to test for HIV and have a negative test result.
If you’ve been exposed to HIV or display symptoms, you’ll need to take a test before restarting on the PrEP medication. It’s important that the test returns a negative result because PrEP cannot effectively treat HIV on its own, and drug resistance may develop if PrEP is taken during an HIV case.
Before starting PrEP, a prevention counsellor can help you:
- Better understand your chances of contracting HIV
- Preventative methods
- Why it’s beneficial to make PrEP part of your daily routine
Who might be a good candidate for PrEP?
People who may benefit from PrEP therapy are those who’ve had sexual intercourse in the last 6 months and people who have:
- A sexual partner who has HIV with a detectable viral load
- Not used a condom during sex on a consistent basis
- Contracted a sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the past 6 months
Advantages and disadvantages of HIV PrEP therapy
There can be many factors to consider when starting a new medication. Here are a few things to take into consideration when deciding if PrEP may be right for you:
Pros of HIV PrEP therapy
- Highly effective in preventing HIV cases when taken regularly
- Protection from HIV transmission for you and your partner
- The convenience of a pill taken once daily
Cons of HIV PrEP therapy
- You’ll have to undergo regular HIV testing
- These medications can have side effects
- It may not be right for you if you have a serious kidney condition or a history of hepatitis B
If you think you may contract HIV, it’s important to test regularly and talk with a counsellor about prevention steps you can take. Make an appointment with Marie Stopes today and learn about contraception options available to you.