20 things you need to know about PrEP – anti-HIV drug taken to prevent contracting HIV/AIDs

Most people are unable to consistently use condoms during sex, and this habit have driven researchers to develop a drug to protect HIV- negative persons from contracting HIV/AIDs even if they have unprotected sex.
PrEP’ stands for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis; It is a pill taken daily by people who are HIV negative to protect them from HIV infection.
In simpler terms, PrEP is an anti-HIV medication that keeps HIV-negative people from becoming infected even when they have unprotected sex with people who are HIV + positive.
Below are IMPORANT things you need to know about PrEP:
How well does it work?
For HIV-negative people who take it every day, PrEP can lower the risk of getting HIV by up to 90%.. PrEP only for people who are HIV-negative
PrEP is recommended for people who are at an on-going risk of HIV infection.
How often do I need to take PrEP?
You need to take it once a day at more or less the same time. That doesn’t mean that taking the pill has to be on the minute – a few hours either way is okay.
How long does it take for PrEP to become protective?
It takes up to 20 days to be fully protected. PrEP MUST be taken daily!
Can you get HIV from taking PrEP?
No, as long as you follow the doctor’s instructions to take PrEP daily it works to prevent HIV infection.
It is however recommended that condoms be used consistently to protect one from unplanned pregnancies or other STI’s.
What happens if you miss a dosage?
The rate of protection is based on strictly taking the pill daily. If you don’t take the pill as advised by the doctor, you don’t get full protection.

If I take PrEP, does this mean I have to take it for the rest of my life?
No. It is important that you take PrEP daily while at risk of acquiring HIV, but when you feel that you are no longer at risk you can talk to your healthcare provider about stopping PrEP.

What if I want to stop taking PrEP?
If you decide PrEP is no longer a useful HIV prevention strategy for you, it is recommended that you discuss with your healthcare provider before stopping PrEP. You may be advised to continue taking PrEP for four weeks after your last potential exposure to HIV. This period also provides some planning time to think about other HIV prevention strategies.
Can you take PrEP for one night only?
No. You need to take the pill once a day for about a month before you are fully protected.

Does PrEP also protect you against other sexually transmitted infections?
No. It only protects against HIV infection. PrEPdoes not protect against unwanted pregnancy or other STIs.
Can I share PrEP with my HIV+ partner, or take my partner’s HIV medications to help prevent HIV?
Even if your HIV-positive partner is taking ART, it is important not to share your PrEP pills with your HIV-positive partner or to take your mix up pills, and this could lead to unexpected partner might run out of medications when you need them.

Does PrEP have side effects?

Side effects include headache, nausea, vomiting, rash, and loss of appetite. For most people, these will go away after a few weeks

What happens if you take PrEP and you are HIV-positive?
PrEP could potentially not work for you as HIV treatment. Having both the virus and medication in your body allows the virus to become resistant to the medication.PrEP works best as part of other HIV prevention approaches such as condom use, HIV testing, healthy lifestyle etc.

If I take PrEP, can I stop using condoms when I have sex?
No. PrEP is an extra HIV prevention option and should be used in combination with condoms. Using condoms is still the best way to prevent HIV infection. Condoms protect against STIs and unwanted pregnancy when used correctly and consistently.
Is PrEP for me?
PrEP is anyone who is IV negative but constantly at risk of getting HIV.
Where can I get PrEP?
For more information on PrEP, visit your nearest health center.

About this writer:

Pauline Syombua

Content Developer IG: Kermbua