HIV Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is a combination of 2 HIV medicines, sold under the name of Truvada (Tenofovir and Emtricitabine), when taken daily lowers the chances of a very high risk HIV negative individual from getting infected with HIV.
Do not mistaken this for Post exposure prophylaxis (PEP) which is taken for 28 days after a potential exposure to the HIV virus.
The precept is simple, take one pill a day and you are protected from getting HIV.
8 Frequent Asked Questions on HIV Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP):
1.) How effective is HIV Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP)?
When used daily, it can lower the risk of getting HIV from sexual intercourse by 99%.
The protection against getting HIV from sharing needles is lower at about 70%.
Being on PrEP is NOT AN EXCUSE for going bareback. Using a condom further reduces the risk of getting HIV. Also, PrEP does NOT protect against other STDs. But condoms DO!
Also remember that medicines work only if they are taken properly. For PrEP to work best, it has to be taken daily and regularly.
2.) Who should consider PrEP?
- If your partner is living with HIV
- If you are not is a mutually monogamous relationship
- If you have been diagnosed with an STD in the past 6 months
3.) What is the regimen like?
Truvada needs to be consumed daily consistently for it to be effective. Taking it every other day or only prior to an exposure will not provide you protection against HIV.
A pill a day keeps the HIV away!
4.) How long after initiation of PrEP will it then provide protection?
The general rule is that you have to be on PrEP for 7 days before you are protected.
There are ways to speed this up and there are circumstances when this is longer. Please check with our doctor when you consult for your PrEP prescription.
5.) What are the side effects of PrEP? Is it safe to take it long term?
PrEP is as safe as Aspirin!
PrEP is relatively safe. When side effects do occur, most common symptoms are nausea and diarrhoea. Generally, these symptoms usually subside over time. No serious side effects have been recorded and the side effects are never life threatening.
However, if you do develop side effects that are not improving with time, please contact the doctor that prescribed you the PrEP.
6.) How can I purchase PrEP?
You will need to consult a doctor first and he may go through with you your risks based on the type of sexual behaviour. The doctor will also run some bloods tests, including HIV, Hepatitis screen, and other blood tests such as full blood count, kidney function test and liver function test. If there are no contraindications, the doctor will then prescribe you PrEP.
7.) Since PrEP is effective in providing protection, can I not use a condom for oral and anal sex?
Always use a condom. PrEP doesnt give you 100 percent protection. Using a condom while on PrEP significantly lowers your risk further. Besides that, PrEP doesnt protect you against other sexually transmitted diseases(STDs) such as gonorrhea and chlamydia which can infect the throat, anus and penile urethra. While on PrEP it is recommended to screen for HIV and other STDs regularly.
8.) How often should i test for HIV if i am consuming PrEP?
It is recommended to screen for HIV and STDs every 3 months. 3 monthly testing can be done at Dr Tan & Partners clinics with STD screening packages tailored for PrEP consumers, ranging from $200 to 400.00 before GST.