Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis—also known as PrEP—has been available in the U.S. for over a year after the clinical practice guidelines were released by the US Public Health Service in May 2014. In that time, it’s become standard practice for people at risk of contracting HIV to have a PrEP prescription. A powerful HIV prevention tool, PrEP can be combined with condoms and other methods to provide a high level of protection.
What It Does
The HIV virus targets particular cells in the body’s immune system to replicate. PrEP reinforces those cells against infection, preventing the virus from establishing an infection in your body. Any exposure to the virus results in the viral DNA breaking down in the body and you remaining uninfected and healthy.
How Well Does It Work?
Before the CDC and US Public Health Service approve any medication, it undergoes a series of clinical tests to ensure effectiveness. In these studies, PrEP reduced the risk of infection up to 92% for those who took the medication consistently.
Who Is Eligible for PrEP?
Federal guidelines recommend that PrEP be offered to people who are HIV-negative and at a high risk for contracting HIV. This includes: anyone who is in an ongoing relationship with and HIV-positive partner, anyone not in a mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who recently tested HIV-negative, is a gay or bisexual man who has had anal sex without a condom, is a heterosexual woman who doesn’t regularly use condoms, people who inject illicit drugs or who have been in treatment for injection drug use.
Is PrEP Right for Me?
If you’re currently HIV-negative and in an at-risk situation where you could be exposed to the virus, contact your doctor and ask about PrEP. Remember that it’s most effective when taken every single day, and that follow-up visits with your doctor every 3 months are necessary to obtain a new prescription and ensure that your status remains negative.