Understanding PrEP & Its Importance For Preventing HIV

Every year on December 1st, the world observes World AIDS Day. People all over the world come together to show their support for those living with and affected by HIV, as well as to remember those who have died as a result of the disease.

NACO's NACP aims to halt and reverse the HIV epidemic in India. The HIV epidemic in India is thought to be concentrated in nature. NACO has focused its prevention efforts on population subgroups identified as being at high risk of HIV infection

The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) cases have grown to a pandemic extent since the first case of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) was reported in 1981. HIV is a Lentivirus type of virus. This is a retrovirus of some sort. It infects the human immune system, which is the body's defense system against infections. AIDS may be caused by HIV. This destroys white blood cells, which are used by a healthy body to fight diseases.

AIDS is declining, but India still has 24.01 lakh patients, 51000 of whom are children under the age of 12. 

  • Maharashtra - 3.94 Lakhs
  • Andhra Pradesh - 3.21 Lakhs
  • Karnataka - 2.76 Lakhs
  • Uttar Pradesh - 1.78 Lakhs
  • Tamil Nadu - 1.63 Lakhs 
  • Telangana - 1.56 Lakhs 
  • Bihar - 1.43 Lakhs
  • Gujarat - 1.14 Lakhs

Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP).

PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) is a type of HIV prevention medication. PrEP is extremely effective at preventing HIV when used as directed.

  • PrEP reduces the risk of contracting HIV through sex by 99%.
  • PrEP reduces the risk of HIV infection associated with injection drug use by at least 74%.
  • PrEP is less effective when taken as directed. Because PrEP only protects against HIV, condom use is still required to avoid other STDs. 
  • Condom use is also important to help prevent HIV if PrEP is not taken as prescribed.

What Exactly Is PrEP?

It helps discover HIV risk and how to reduce it. PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) is a medication that lowers the risk of contracting HIV from sex or injection drug use. PrEP is a highly effective HIV prevention tool when used as directed.

Are There Different Kinds Of PrEP?

PrEP can come in the form of pills or shots.

  • Truvada and Descovy are the two approved PrEP pills.
    1. Truvada is for people who are at risk due to sex or injection drug use.
    2. Descovy is designed for people who are at risk due to sex. Descovy is not for people who were assigned female at birth and are at risk of HIV through receptive vaginal sex.
    3. Apretude is the only PrEP-approved shot. Apretude is for people who are at risk through sex and weigh at least (35 kg).

    Is It Possible For Me To Switch From Pills To Shots?

    PrEP pill and syringe bottle. Talk to a doctor about switching from PrEP pills to shots. If a person does not have HIV and has no known allergies to the medications in the shot, PrEP shots may be right for him/her. If a person decides to switch from pills to shots, they will need to see the doctor on a regular basis to get a shot. They will also need to be tested for HIV before receiving each PrEP shot.

    Is PrEP Risk-Free?

    Although PrEP is not dangerous, some people experience side effects such as diarrhea, nausea, headache, fatigue, and stomach pain. These side effects usually fade with time. Inform the doctor if a person experiences any severe or persistent side effects.

    How Long Does It Take For PrEP To work?

    • PrEP pills provide the best HIV protection for receptive anal sex (bottoming) after about 7 days of daily use.
    • PrEP pills provide maximum protection for receptive vaginal sex and injection drug use after about 21 days of daily use.
    • There is no data on the effectiveness of PrEP pills for insertive anal sex (topping) or insertive vaginal sex.
    • We don't know how long PrEP shots take to provide maximum protection during sex.

     

    Is PrEP Appropriate?

    If  a person does not have HIV and any of the following applies to him/her, PrEP can help protect them:

    • The person has had anal or vaginal sex within the last 6 months.
    • Have had a sexual partner with HIV, especially if the partner has an unknown or detectable viral load.
    • Have not used a condom on a consistent basis.
    • Have been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease in the previous 6 months.
    • The person injects drugs and has an HIV-infected injection partner, or shared needles, syringes, or other drug injection equipment. 
    • The person has been prescribed PEP (Post-Exposure Prophylaxis) and reports ongoing risk behavior, or a person has used multiple courses of PEP.
    • Even if none of the above behaviors applies, still the person may choose to take PrEP.

     

    Can Pregnant Or Breastfeeding Women use PrEP?

    If the person has an HIV-positive partner and is thinking about getting pregnant, then she should talk to a doctor about PrEP if not already taking it. PrEP may be an option for protecting the mother and her baby from HIV while trying to conceive, during pregnancy, or while breastfeeding.

    Can Teenagers Use PrEP?

    Yes, PrEP pills are approved for use by HIV-negative adolescents who weigh at least 77 pounds (35 kg) and are at risk of contracting HIV through sex or injection drug use. PrEP shots have been approved for adolescents who are at risk of contracting HIV through sex.

    How To Get Started With PrEP?

    • If a person thinks PrEP might be right for him/her, must talk to their doctor. Any licensed healthcare provider who can write prescriptions can prescribe PrEP.
    • Before starting PrEP, a person must have an HIV test to check whether they are positive for HIV or not.
    • While on PrEP, he or she must visit the doctor on a regular basis for follow-up visits, HIV tests, and prescription refills or shots.
    • Inquire with doctors about tests and telehealth services for follow-up visits.

    Can A Person Start Or Continue Taking PrEP Without Seeing A Provider In Person?

    Even if an in-person appointment is not possible, telehealth (a phone or video consultation with a health care provider) and mail-in HIV tests allow ordering a specimen collection kit that includes everything needed to start or continue taking PrEP pills. If a person is receiving PrEP shots, they will need to see a doctor for a shot.

    What If A Person Discontinues PrEP?

    People discontinue PrEP for a variety of reasons, including:

    • Because of changes in life, the risk of contracting HIV decreases.
    • A person doesn't want to take a pill exactly as directed or frequently forgets to take pills.
    • A person is unable to visit the doctor on a regular basis to receive recommended vaccinations.
    • The medication has side effects that are interfering with life.
    • Blood tests reveal that body is reacting negatively to PrEP.
    • Speak with a doctor about other HIV prevention methods that may be more effective for that person.

    How To Resume Taking PrEP If Stopped?

    Inform the healthcare provider if anyone wants to resume taking PrEP. He/She must have an HIV test before beginning PrEP to ensure that they do not have HIV.

    Can A Person Use PrEP Only Once If He Or She Believes Have Recently Been Exposed To HIV?

    • PrEP is for people who are at high risk of contracting HIV.
    • PrEP is not recommended for people who have been exposed to HIV within the last 72 hours.
    • If a person believes that he or she has been exposed to HIV in the last 72 hours, h or she must speak with a doctor, an emergency room doctor, or an urgent care provider about PEP.

    Why Does A  Person Have To Take PrEP As Directed?

    • PrEP must be taken exactly as directed in order to be effective.
    • If a person does not take PrEP as directed, there may not be enough medicine in the bloodstream to prevent the virus from infecting her.
    • The right dose of medication in the bloodstream can prevent HIV from taking hold and spreading throughout the body.

    Can PrEP Be Used If A Woman Is On Birth Control?

    PrEP has no known interactions with hormone-based birth control methods such as the pill, patch, ring, shot, implant, or IUD. It is safe 

    Will PrEP Conflict With Hormone Therapy?

    There are no known drug interactions between PrEP and hormone therapy, and there is no reason why the medications cannot be taken concurrently.

    Person Taking PrEP, Can Stop Using Condoms?

    • PrEP protects against HIV but not against other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) or pregnancy.
    • Condoms can aid in the prevention of other STDs transmitted through genital fluids, such as gonorrhea and chlamydia.
    • Condoms are less effective at preventing STDs like human papillomavirus, genital herpes, and syphilis, which can be transmitted through skin sores or cuts.

    If a person test positive for HIV, he/she must inform their sexual partners so that they can be tested as well. Even if great care is taken not to spread HIV, admitting partners about their status in crucial so that both will be well-informed and can help each other stay healthy. 

    Current HIV treatment options do not provide a permanent cure, but they do effectively control HIV. Nonetheless, comprehensive HIV programs are required to reach all people in need of treatment and to prevent the spread of new infections. The ability of HIV to incorporate itself into human genetic coding and lie dormant within the human poses a significant challenge to HIV treatment options. Current ART medications do not cure the virus, and if the regimen is interrupted in any way, the virus begins to multiply recklessly.

    AADAR believes that it is always better to play it safe rather than act smart and put you and your loved ones in a situation where there is no turning back. It is always preferable to have safe sex and to get tested on a regular basis if you have multiple partners rather than risking lifelong complications. Because PREVENTION IS PREFERRED TO CURE.

    We have Health Experts who can easily connect with you and discuss your sexual concerns. You can consult your family doctor first to get the most accurate diagnosis, or you can contact our Health Expert or connect with us at +919867667699.

    By Harsh Shah 1 comment

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    comments (1)

    • Dillima

      It is very good information about some myths regarding the curing of both HIV and hepatitis C infection. It was somewhat useful for many including me. It is a must-read blog to explore the new info about HIV and hepatitis C infection curable medicines. Keep it posting these kinds of informative blogs in the future!

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