- What is PrEP?
Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is a medicine which can be use to prevent someone from getting HIV from sexual exposure or injection drug use. There are different type of PrEP available in our world. You need to talk to your doctor to find out about the availability of PrEP in the clinic.
- Who should take PrEP?
PrEP is not for everyone. This medication is useful for people who are at risk of contracting HIV. Among groups of people who are considered at high risk of getting HIV are:
- People who have sex with HIV partner
- People who are sexually active in the area where HIV is common
- Not using condom during sex
- Alcohol dependence
- Having Sexual Transmitted Disease
- Gay and bisexual couples
- Who shall not take PrEP?
- Someone who were already diagnosed with HIV
- Someone who has previous allergy to specific PrEP
- Someone who had high risk exposure prior on starting on PrEP (need PEP instead)
- What about side effects of PrEP?
- Common side effects: headache, nausea, vomiting, stomach upset, diarrhoea
- Serious side effects: liver damage, kidney failure, lactic acidosis (build up of acid in the body).
Most of the time, the common side effects will resolve after few days/weeks hence you can continue take PrEP without any problem. However, should anything that you unsure, you may always ask your doctor about it.
- How effective PrEP in preventing HIV?
Based on CDC guidelines, PrEP reduce risk of getting HIV by 99% especially when taken as prescribe. However, the effectiveness will need to wait for few days after initiating on PrEP to get maximum protection from HIV.
- What will be the routine check up before initiating PrEP?
In most cases, your doctor will begin to take your history about previous possible exposure from HIV. At this point, it is recommended for you to have an open and honest consultation with your doctor so he/she may help to determine best course of action. Previous medical conditions, current medications and supplements are also very important information you need to tell your doctor. Certain symptoms may indicate or points towards acute HIV infections such as:
- Sore throat
- Muscle/joint pain
- Lump/bump at groin or neck (lymphadenopathy)
Following the history taking and complete physical exam, you will be required to undergo HIV test to determine your status. You may also consider simple blood test to check your full blood picture, your renal and liver profile as a baseline before taking on PrEP. This will help your doctor to monitor the side effects of this medication accordingly.
- How to take PrEP?
There are 2 methods.
- Daily dosing
- On demand dosing
- What if you miss the dose of PrEP?
Not to worry if you have no prior exposure to HIV. If you suspicious of HIV exposure for the past 72 hours, please do not hesitate to contact your healthcare provider as he/she may be able to provide emergency PEP (Post exposure prophylaxis)
- How long do I need to take PrEP?
In most cases, if your doctor think you are a candidate for PrEP (ongoing exposure to HIV), you may need to take it for prolong period. However, if you are not at risk of contracting HIV anymore, this medicine may be stop by your doctor. All in all, it is best to consult your doctor prior to stop the medication.
- What if I never took PrEP and had an activity that potentially exposed me to HIV?
You may need to speak to your doctor as soon as you can within 3 days (72 hour) after exposed to HIV. Post exposure prophylaxis (PEP) may be initiated to prevent from getting HIV.