Before anything else, preparation is the key to success. And by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail. So why not take your health into your own hands and be properly PrEP’d for the risks you face?
PrEP is a powerful new HIV prevention method in which people who do not have HIV can choose to take one pill daily in order to significantly reduce the chances of them getting infected. A proven HIV prevention tool, PrEP does not prevent pregnancy or other STDs, but it can be combined with condoms and other prevention techniques to provide even greater protection.
PrEP is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and works by combining two medications used to treat HIV. The pill is called Truvada® but is a combination of the medications Tenofovir and Emtricitabine. When combined into PrEP, these medicines work by blocking important pathways that HIV uses to set up an infection within the body. By taking the medicine consistently, the elevated levels of the drug in your bloodstream work to keep the virus from taking hold if exposure were to occur. PrEP can only be prescribed by a health care provider and must be taken as directed to work.
Those that are interested in PrEParing themselves for the possibility of exposure must be committed to taking the drug every day and seeing their health care provider for follow-up care every 3 months. A dedicated commitment to taking the medication as prescribed and consistent follow-up care must be upheld in order to ensure they are maintaining effective HIV prevention levels of the drug in their system. If you do not PrEP every day, there may not be enough medicine in your bloodstream to block the virus should exposure occur.
When taken daily, PrEP has been shown to reduce the risk of HIV infection in people who are at high risk by more than 90%. It is much less effective if it is not taken consistently. High risk is defined as anyone who is in an ongoing relationship with an HIV-positive partner. It also includes anyone who is not in a mutually monogamous relationship. Mutually monogamous means that you and your partner only have sex with each other and do not have sex outside the relationship. Additional individuals that could be considered high risk include:
- Men who have had anal sex without a condom or been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection within the past 6 months;
- Men who have sex with both men and women;
- Men and Women who do not regularly use condoms during sex with partners of unknown HIV status;
- People who have injected drugs in the past 6 months or been in drug treatment in the past 6 months;
- If you have a partner who is HIV-positive and are considering getting pregnant, talk to your doctor about PrEP. It may be an option to protect you and your baby.
Also, PrEP is only for people who have an ongoing substantial risk of HIV infection. For people who may have had a single high-risk event of potential exposure—such as sex without a condom, needle-sharing injection drug use, or sexual assault—there is an option for post-exposure called PEP. PEP must begin within 72 hours of exposure in order to be effective.
So while you are writing out your 5 year plan and preparing for the next phase of your life, remember that success is when preparation and opportunity meet. So consider this your opportunity to PrEPare for success.