PrEP stands for preexposure prophylaxis, a treatment aimed at preventing HIV from developing in people who may be exposed to the virus. PreP uses ongoing doses of medication to prevent disease transmission. To be effective, PreP therapy must be followed consistently. Skipping or missing doses can significantly decrease the effectiveness of the therapy.
PrEP uses antiretrovirals, the same type of medication used to combat HIV in people who are already infected. By “preloading” the body with antiretrovirals before exposure to the virus, the body is able to prevent the virus from replicating so infection can’t occur. To work properly, PrEP medications must be taken every day on a regular schedule.
PrEP can be a good option for people who:
PrEP doesn’t protect against other sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs), and the presence of an active STD can increase the risk of contracting AIDS. Wearing a condom while using PrEP therapy can help make the treatment even more effective.
Therapy begins with an office visit to candidly discuss exposure risks and condom use, followed by an HIV test. Additional testing may be performed to determine if other STDs are present and to evaluate kidney function. While on PrEP, patients will take one pill each day, ideally at the same time to establish a routine that can prevent accidentally missing a dose. Patients using PrEP will need to visit the doctor four times per year for testing and prescription renewal. Kidney function testing is usually performed annually.
Some patients initially may experience mild nausea, upset stomach or loss of appetite, but these effects should disappear within the first month of therapy.
Feel free to email us regarding any scheduling or general questions!