Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP)

Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is a treatment used to protect against the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). When taken daily, this preventative medication can protect HIV-negative individuals from the infection, especially if they have an increased risk of contracting it. Explore our treatments before having unprotected sex, to effectively protect yourself against the infection.

Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is a treatment used to protect against the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). When taken daily, this preventative medication can protect HIV-negative individuals from the infection, especially if they have an increased risk of contracting it. Explore our treatments before having unprotected sex, to effectively protect yourself against the infection.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is PrEP? 

Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) refers to the protection against infection even before getting in contact with it. This medication is used to prevent HIV in people who are known to be high risk but are currently HIV-negative. It is not the same with PEP or post-exposure prophylaxis, which is taken after virus exposure. A useful comparison would be the difference between the contraceptive pill and the morning-after pill. Both can prevent pregnancy but one is taken before the act and the other is taken afterwards.

PrEp HIV Prevention Rate 

PrEP has proven to be a successful medication. When taken properly, the prevention rates go up to 92%. This is crucial because HIV or the human immunodeficiency virus can be a cruel disease as it severely weakens your immune system. This damage gets worse over time, making your body weak and prone to serious infections and cancers. If the HIV infection progresses to the point that your immune system gets extremely damaged, then this would indicate that the infection has developed into its most grievous phase called AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome).

Prevent Contracting HIV 

Once you contract the HIV infection (and become HIV-positive), you will live with it forever, as the human body can never get rid of the virus completely (even with treatment). However, you may not show symptoms for an extended period, the disease is manageable and some people live their whole life without HIV ever developing into AIDS.

How is HIV transmitted? 

Unlike some viruses, such as cold and flu, HIV is not airborne. It cannot spread from one person to another through proximity, casual contact like hugging, shaking hands, kissing, or sharing toilets, dishes or glasses. It also does not spread through bodily fluids like saliva, sweat, urine, or tears, or by mosquitos or other blood-sucking insects.

Aids can only be transmitted as HIV 

HIV survives exclusively in a person’s blood, semen, pre-seminal fluid, rectal fluids, vaginal fluids, and breast milk. Thus, it can only be transmitted by unprotected sex, both vaginal and anal, by sharing needles, syringes and other drug equipment, and occasionally from mother to child during pregnancy. Even if the person infected HIV gets to the AIDS stage, he can pass the virus on as HIV. AIDS cannot be passed to another person, it only develops in an HIV-infected person’s body over time.

How does PrEP work? 

When HIV gets into your body, it attaches itself to your cells and multiplies to destroy them. PrEP treatments serve as a barrier between HIV infection and your body’s cells because they have the same active ingredients as HIV-positive medicines.

So, if you had sexual contact with someone infected by the virus, the drug kills it before it can develop and multiply.

How long for PrEP to become effective? 

The drug Emtricitabine Tenofovir typically takes 7-20 days to become effective, but after that, it should successfully protect you from the HIV infection. 

How do I use PrEP? 

You should take the PrEP medicine daily for long-term protection against HIV. You can also take it before and after sex. The drug is only recommended for those who are negative from HIV but are considered as high risk of contracting the virus.

Who is most at risk from contracting HIV? 

Engaging in anal sex is the highest risk of virus transmission, particularly to the receiver. This is because of the way the virus gets into the body. Male to male unprotected sexual intercourse, especially with multiple partners, is considered high risk. 

What constitutes a high risk of HIV infection? 

Living in the area or having sexual activities in places where HIV is prevalent such as in sub-Saharan Africa puts you at high risk. Also, if you have sex with someone who lives there or has spent some time there and has had sexual partners in the area.

Sex workers are also at higher risk, due to frequently changing sexual partners. Women who have sex with men, who’ve had sex with men are also at risk. “Chemsex” or having sex while intoxicated with certain drugs is also high risk because of drug use, particularly those involving sharing needles.

Before you start with PrEP, you will be required to undergo HIV testing to make sure you are HIV-negative. As soon as you get a negative result, you can begin treatment straight immediately.