PrEP (Pre Exposure Prophylaxis) is an HIV prevention strategy, which consists of the daily and scheduled intake of a pill (Emtricitabine/Tenofovir) that generates protection in the body of the person to reduce the chances of acquiring HIV in case it is exposed to the virus.
Who is Pre Exposure Prophylaxis recommended for?
- Men who have sex with men, transgender women, as well as sex workers.
- People with a lot of sexual activity and irregular condom use.
- People who attend parties or meeting places with exchange of sexual partners and consumption of substances or alcohol before or at the time of having sex.
- People who have had or have a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI), particularly if they are recurrent.
- People whose partner has HIV, whether or not they are being treated.
How effective is PrEP?
Regarding the effectiveness of the treatment World Health Organization points out that PrEP prevents HIV by more than 94%, as long as there is evidence of compliance in people’s daily intakes.
Is the protection permanent?
In cisgender men, PrEP reaches maximum protection after 7 days of daily use. If you forget to take for four days or more, the protection disappears; in transgender or transsexual women’s protection is achieved after 14 days. PrEP does not interfere with the hormonal treatment of trans women.
How PrEP works
Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is a dose of HIV drugs taken by HIV-negative people to protect themselves against HIV infection. Currently, PrEP (Generic Truvada) is the only drug approved for use as PrEP. Truvada is a pill that combines the anti-HIV medicines tenofovir and emtricitabine, but there are also generic forms of PrEP available that contain the same active drugs.
PrEP anti-HIV drugs prevent the virus from replicating in your body. If you are exposed to HIV, for example during sex the condom broke, but you have been taking PrEP correctly, there will be high enough levels of drugs to prevent you from getting HIV. If used consistently and correctly, PrEP will virtually eliminate the risk of being infected with HIV.
What are the side effects of PrEP?
According to the chemical compounds of the drug, PrEP can cause some people immediate effects such as headache, dizziness, diarrhea, hallucinations, vivid dreams, nausea and/or vomiting. Many of these effects do not last more than 3 or 4 days.
What is the difference between Pre Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) and Post Exposure (PEP)?
Post Exposure Prophylaxis is a strategy to prevent infection in those who have had some risky practice, whether an unprotected sexual relationship, sexual violence or occupational risk (for health personnel) and consists of taking antiretroviral treatment (Emtricitabine/Tenofovir/Efavirenz) for thirty days and must be started within 72 hours of the risk practice.
For its part, PrEP helps to generate protection prior to risk practices, which although it is not permanent, the person must take it adherently (daily at the same time) at least as long as he considers himself at risk.
PrEP is not a vaccine and does not work the same way. A vaccine teaches the body how to fight an infection for several years. PrEP is a pill that is taken once a day, at the same time, to generate HIV protection.
Remember that PrEP is a combination HIV prevention treatment and does not exclude you from acquiring any other STI, so you should not stop using a condom. Taking PrEP is a voluntary act and it is the decision of each person the moment they decide to stop treatment.