What is PrEP?
By Haley Fretes, Public Relations Intern at WellFlorida Council
Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) is a comprehensive HIV prevention strategy where people at extremely high risk for HIV take daily HIV medications to lower their chances of getting infected from sex or injection drug use. (CDC, 2018).
In July 2012, the US Food and Drug Administration approved the use of Truvada, a single pill that combines two HIV medicines (tenofovir and emtricitabine), for use as PrEP (Florida DOH, 2018). When taken daily, the medication in your bloodstream can often stop HIV from taking hold and spreading throughout your body (CDC, 2018). Studies have revealed that if used as prescribed daily, PrEP is a safe and highly effective method for preventing HIV. If not used consistently, however, prevention is much less effective.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), using PrEP daily can lower the risk of getting HIV from sex by more than 90% and from injection drug use by more than 70%. Combined with additional HIV prevention methods such as condoms, individuals can reduce the risk of infection by even more.
As stated in the federal guidelines, PrEP should be considered for people who are HIV-negative and in an ongoing sexual relationship with an HIV-positive partner. PrEP may also be an option for helping protect mothers and their babies from getting the HIV infection while trying to get pregnant, during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.
The CDC also recommends the use of PrEP to anyone who:
- has injected drugs in the past six months and has shared needles or worked or been in drug treatment in the past six months
- isn’t 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 using a condom or being diagnosed with an STD in the past six months, or
- a heterosexual man or woman who doesn’t regularly use condoms during sex with partners of unknown HIV status who are at substantial risk of HIV infection.
It is important to know that effective use of PrEP does not just mean taking a pill every day. While taking PrEP, individuals will need to see their health care provider at least once every two to three months for routine care and testing.
If you are HIV-negative and want it to stay that way, talk to your health provider to see if PrEP may be the right HIV prevention strategy for you.
The Florida Department of Health offers PrEP and related services throughout the state. In Alachua County, contact Gay Koehler-Sides at 352-334-7965 for more information about the resources available.
For additional information about PrEP and other HIV Basics, visit the CDC at https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/basics/index.html or the Florida Department of Health at http://www.floridahealth.gov/diseases-and-conditions/aids/PrEP/index.html.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2018, November 01). PrEP. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/basics/prep.html
Florida Department of Health (DOH). (2018, July 12). PrEP/nPEP. Retrieved from http://www.floridahealth.gov//diseases-and-conditions/aids/PrEP/index.html
Project Inform. (2014). Is taking PrEP the right choice for you? [Brochure]. Author. Retrieved February 11, 2019, from http://www.floridahealth.gov//diseases-and-conditions/aids/prevention/_documents/prepbooklet_msm.pdf