According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) HIV (Human Immuno Virus), infection is still on the rise. Approximately 50,000 new cases are reported each year. Practicing safe sex through the use of condoms or abstinence have not been very effective in preventing the spread of the infection. There is hope for a vaccine. Meanwhile, PrEP may offer sexual freedom while protecting persons who engage in high risks behaviors. Compliance with PrEP helps to reduce HIV infection by 90%.
What is PrEP
PrEP is an abbreviation for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis. The drug Truvada is used to reduce the risk of HIV infection in persons who are not practicing safe sex. The drug combines tenofovir and emtricitabine two anti-HIV medications. It is considered to be safe, risk-free and effective when taken as prescribed. However, it is not a “morning after pill.”
How Does It Work?
When an HIV negative person is exposed, the drug prevents the infection from developing in the body. The immune system has cells known as T cells that help the body to defend itself from harmful germs and viruses.
T cells can ward off most infections. However, when HIV enters the body, it attacks these cells, using them to reproduce multiple copies of the virus. The immune system becomes overwhelmed, and the virus can establish itself.
Truvada prevents the infection from entering the cells by blocking this action. The body builds up resistance in one week, and maximum protection in three weeks. It must be taken consistently on a daily basis to maintain blood levels and reduce the risk of infection.
Components of PrEP
Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) is a preventative approach to fighting HIV. The goal is to prevent the infection in at-risk persons who are HIV negative. The program which started about two years ago consists of drug therapy, education on HIV, prevention strategies, and medical monitoring.
There are six basic strategies designed to reduce the risks of infection in HIV-negative persons:
HIV testing at six monthly intervals
Compliance with taking the drug daily for the period indicated.
Practicing safe sex by using condoms to reduce sexually transmitted infections (STI’s)
Periodic screenings for HIV and STI’s
Continuing prevention education on the risks of HIV and STI’s
Reduced risk of non-compliance through supportive counseling.
Isn’t a vaccination
Does not cure HIV or AIDS
Does not give protection against other STD’s(sexually transmitted diseases)
May initially cause upset stomach
Taking extra pills does not increase protection
The person must be HIV negative
Requires periodic testing
Is very effective when taken as prescribed.
It destroys the virus before it can harm the body
Eliminates worry and panic in persons with high-risk behaviors.
Reduces new cases of HIV
There are no reported risks
PrEP reduces the fears of infection for those persons who consistently engage in high-risk behaviors. However, this program requires that HIV-negative individuals practice safe and responsible sexual behaviors to reduce the spread of HIV infection.
Harriette Barker, Ph.D., RN, CHC