PrEP: The New Way to Prevent AIDS?

It’s far better that you be aware of means of prevention rather than wait for a cure.

The old adage rings even more true with incurable diseases, such as AIDS. Although the annual number of new diagnoses declined by 9% from 2010 to 2014, still roughly 6,000 individuals were diagnosed in 2015.

Why Prevention Is Key To Fighting AIDS

There’s a reason why AIDS still claims so many victims. Up until now, AIDS prevention relied on behaviour change, something that’s very difficult to do, even when the stakes are literally as high as your life. Just think about all the people who smoke, for example. They know it’s going to kill them, but knowledge alone isn’t enough to make them kick the nasty habit for good.

It’s the same for AIDS. Unprotected sex, racism, poverty, homophobia, homelessness and drug use all drastically increase your chances of becoming infected. Of course, we need to take drastic measures to eliminate those evils once and for all, but let’s be honest here, it won’t happen overnight. In the meantime, we desperately need a way to stop this disease from spreading in the first place, and PrEP might be an option to consider.

What is PrEP?

PrEP stands for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis. It’s a new pill that keeps HIV-negative people from becoming infected in the first place. It works by interfering with the virus’ ability to copy itself and take hold in your body after you’ve been exposed. The catch? You have to take a pill every single day. Popping one only every now and then won’t do the trick.

I know, it might feel like a hassle but it might be well worth it, just think of it as your daily vitamin. If taken correctly, PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV from sex by more than 90%! Among drug users, the chances of success are slightly lower – but still incredibly high – at 70%. But don’t use the pill as an excuse to stop using condoms and becoming negligent in other areas. When used with PrEP, condoms and other common prevention methods lower your chances of getting HIV even more.

Who Is PrEP For?

PrEP is only for people who are at a VERY high risk of getting AIDS from sex or injected drugs, including:

  • Anyone who is in a loving relationship with a HIV-positive partner
  • Anyone who is sexually active but not in a monogamous relationship
  • Anyone who uses injected drugs and shares needles
  • A gay or bisexual man who has been diagnosed with an STD in the past 6 months

There’s another case where PrEP may help. If you’re thinking of having a baby with your HIV-positive partner, PrEP may help protect you and your baby from getting the diseases, too.

Who Isn’t PrEP For?

PrEP save lives but it’s not for everyone. It’s not a good option for you if:

  • You’ve already been infected
  • You often forget to take your pills
  • You’re dealing with a disease or any other condition that prevents you from taking prep daily or visiting your health care provider regularly

Is PrEP Safe?

Yes. But, like all medication, it has its side effects. Some people have experienced nausea after taking it. But, that usually goes away after a while. So be sure to speak to your doctor about any abnormal symptoms you are experiencing.

Is PrEP For Life?

PrEP must be taken daily. That’s not negotiable. But that doesn’t mean you can never get off it. You can give it the boot if:

  • Any changes in your life have decreased your risk of getting AIDS (for example, you’ve called it quits with your HIV-positive partner)
  • If both you and partner get tested negative for AIDS and remain monogamous
  • If blood tests show you that PrEP is negatively impacting your health (even with the best medicine, there’s always the chance someone will develop an allergic reaction or any other negative reaction)

 

I hope this answers all your questions about PrEP. It’s a pretty big blue pill to swallow, but could potentially save your life. So why not try it if you think you’re at risk?

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BY VIRGINIASOFIA CERRONE
DIREctor