Protecting Your Health: Understanding Preexposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV Prevention
In recent years, remarkable advancements in medical science have given us a powerful tool to reduce the risk of HIV infection. If you or a loved one are at a higher risk of HIV exposure, preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP) could be a game-changer in safeguarding your health. Let’s delve into what PrEP is, who it’s recommended for, and how it can make a significant impact on preventing HIV transmission.
What is Preexposure Prophylaxis (PrEP)?
Preexposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, is a preventive treatment strategy aimed at reducing the risk of HIV infection before exposure occurs. This is achieved by taking a specific type of antiretroviral (ARV) medication regularly. ARV medications are typically used to treat HIV-positive individuals, but when taken by HIV-negative individuals as PrEP, they can significantly lower the chances of contracting the virus.¹
Who Should Consider PrEP?
PrEP is recommended primarily for individuals who have a very high risk of becoming infected with HIV. This includes:
1. People with HIV-Positive Partners: If you have a partner who is living with HIV, PrEP can provide an added layer of protection for you.
2. Individuals Engaging in Risky Behaviours: If you engage in behaviours such as unprotected sex, especially with partners whose HIV status is unknown or positive, or if you use intravenous drugs, PrEP might be a vital option for you.²
How Does PrEP Work?
PrEP involves taking an ARV medication daily, ideally around the same time each day. The medication creates a barrier that prevents the virus from establishing a foothold in your body. However, it’s important to note that PrEP is most effective when used consistently and in conjunction with other preventive measures, such as condom use.²
Ensuring Effectiveness: Adherence is Key
The effectiveness of PrEP hinges on adherence – taking the ARV medication consistently and as prescribed. Skipping doses or irregular usage could significantly diminish its protective effect. Therefore, commitment to a daily regimen is crucial.
Consulting a Healthcare Professional
Before starting PrEP, it’s essential to consult a healthcare provider who can evaluate your risk factors and determine if PrEP is the right choice for you. Your healthcare provider will conduct relevant tests to ensure that you are HIV-negative before beginning the treatment.
1. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. (3 June 2022). Preexposure Prophylaxis (PrEP). https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/basics/prep.html Accessed 25 August 2023
2. World Health Organisation. (5 February 2022). WHO expands recommendation on oral pre-exposure prophylaxis of HIV infection (PrEP). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9252967/ Accessed 25 August 2023