PrEp facts

If you are at high risk of contracting the HIV virus, your doctor may prescribe you a drug known as Truvada, commonly referred to as PrEP. This is an HIV medication that is prescribed to HIV-negative individuals to reduce one’s chances of contracting HIV by over 90%. The risk for contracting the HIV virus from sex is further reduced by combining PrEP with condoms.

What is PrEP?

The acronym PrEP stands for "pre-exposure prophylaxis." This drug helps HIV-negative people to prevent contracting the HIV virus, but only if it is taken on a daily basis before engaging in sexual activity.

However, before a person can begin a daily PrEP regimen, their healthcare provider will need to test them for HIV. If they qualify for the medication and begin their daily regimen, they will need to go in for tests every three months to ensure that the medication is working and that there are no side effects.

PrEP is not a vaccine. Vaccines are taken once to teach the body how to fight off infections whereas PrEP is taken on a daily basis to build the body's resistance against the HIV virus.

How Soon Does Truvada Start Working?

Studies have shown that Truvada should be taken daily for 7-14 days before protective levels are reached in the blood and rectum. However, it takes a longer period for protective levels to be reached in one's cervix and vagina. Therefore, for women, it would be safe to take Truvada daily for three weeks.

In most cases, there are no-to-mild side effects associated with Truvada as PrEP. However, some people are likely to experience fatigue, headaches, and stomach problems. These  symptoms normally go away after a few weeks. Talk to your healthcare provider (doctor) to learn more about this medication.

What Is The Difference Between Pre- and Post-Exposure Treatment For The HIV Virus? 

Truvada is taken before sex and on an ongoing basis for anyone who is at risk of contracting the HIV virus. However, PEP, which stands for post-exposure prophylaxis, is taken after sex when someone thinks they have been exposed to the HIV virus. The medication is taken for a period of 28 days. PEP has to be taken within 72 hours after a possible exposure to the HIV virus.

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