The Future of PrEP: New Medications Studied For HIV Prevention
In 1983, scientists discovered the virus that causes AIDS. At the time, very few people knew anything about the virus — how it spread, what it did to a person, or how to prevent it. Today, our knowledge of HIV is greater than ever. Our better understanding of this disease has led us to not only understand how it is spread, but how to prevent it from spreading. In 2012, the FDA approved the first drug that would limit the likelihood of someone who is at a higher-than-average risk of contracting HIV, from getting the virus. This pre-exposure prevention method became known as PrEP.
What is PrEP?
Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) is an HIV prevention method that is given to individuals who currently do not have HIV, but are at a high risk for contracting it. When taken correctly, PrEP can significantly reduce a person’s likelihood of getting HIV. Typically, gay and bisexual men, as well as people in a relationship with someone who is HIV-positive are the most likely recipients of PrEP. However, it is also given to other people who qualify.
PrEP Medications Approved by the FDA
In 2012, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Truvada for PrEP use. By blocking an enzyme called HIV reverse transcriptase, Truvada prevents HIV from making copies of itself in the body.
The Future of PrEP
Truvada as PrEP has been incredibly successful in reducing the likelihood of a person contracting HIV. When used correctly, PrEP has been shown to reduce infection rates by as much as 90 percent. Because of the effectiveness of Truvada, the FDA is considering these other drugs for PrEP use:
Maroviroc is an oral pill taken once a day to prevent HIV from entering into a person’s cells.
Rilpivirine is delivered in the form of a shot and is injected once a month. Rilpivirine works the same way Truvada does (by preventing HIV from copying itself in the body). However, it only needs to be taken once a month. This could potentially be a better option for people who may not be able to regularly take a pill.
The medications in dapivirine are released into the body through a vaginal ring that is worn for one month at a time. Dapivirine also binds to the enzyme HIV reverse transcriptase, and prevents it from multiplying.
Tenofovir is one of the two medications currently in Truvada. However, it is now being studied to see if it alone can be used to prevent the spread of HIV.
If you believe you need PrEP, or would like to learn more about it, schedule a PrEP consultation at CIRCLE CARE Center. Our licensed physicians can evaluate your needs and suggest the best course of prevention for you.