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What is Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP)?
PrEP is an HIV prevention method in which people who are not infected with HIV take a pill daily prescribed by their provider to prevent acquiring HIV.
Currently, the only medication approved by FDA to use for PrEP is Truvada. Truvada is a combination pill that contains two different medications tenofovir- emtricitabin (TDF-FTC); this is the same medications used to stop the virus from growing in people who are already infected (HIV diagnosed) and treat hepatitis B virus infection.
How does PrEP work?
PrEP is prescribed by a health care provider and must be taken daily in order for it to be effective. PrEP does not work after a person stops taking it. If a person does not take Truvada every day, there may not be enough medicine in the blood stream to block the virus.
How well does PrEP work?
For those that took PrEP consistently, it lowered the risk of getting HIV infection up to 92% in several studies.
If I take PrEP, can I stop using condoms when I have sex?
A person taking PrEP should continue using condoms during all sexual encounters even if they are using PrEP. Taking PrEP alone is not 100% effective; even if condoms are used correctly they are not 100% effective as well. Unlike PrEP, condoms can also protect against other STIs and pregnancy. Therefore, persons PrEP are encouraged to continue using condoms for maximum protection.
Should you consider taking PrEP?
The CDC recommends considering PrEP for a person in an ongoing relationship with an HIV-positive partner, that are not in a mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who recently tested HIV-negative, and is a gay or bisexual man who has had anal sex without a condom or been diagnosed with an STD in the past 6 months; OR heterosexual man or woman who does not regularly use condoms during sex with partners of unknown HIV status who are at substantial risk of HIV infection (e.g., people who inject drugs or have bisexual male partners).
The CDC also recommends PrEP for “people who inject drugs, this includes those who have injected illicit drugs in the past 6 months and who have shared injection equipment or been in drug treatment for injection drug use in the past 6 months.”
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