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What is PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis?)
PrEP is a medication taken in cases where there is a likelihood that a person may come into contact with a carrier of the infection and become infected themselves. Those in the higher risk category may include those who are:
• having sex with someone who is HIV positive
• having intercourse with someone from countries with high levels of HIV
• taking drugs through the use of needles and sharing needles
• sex workers
• regularly having sex without condoms
When taken daily, the presence of these two drugs in the bloodstream can prevent HIV from being able to establish itself and spread throughout the whole body. This is why PrEP must be taken daily to keep the levels of the drug high enough to work effectively.
Note: Although the drugs used are separate treatments for HIV-1, together they do not form a complete HIV treatment. As such, if you are HIV positive, you must take other medications too, and this should be discussed with your GP or Click Pharmacy doctor.
PrEP Prevention rate
The prevention rates from PrEP protecting against HIV infection from sexual intercourse are very positive, so long as the medication is taken consistently. As yet there are limited studies done on occasional use; as such, the FDA highly recommended that PrEP is used every day to ensure the highest level of protection and prevention possible.
Studies rates are published as follows:
Note: if your partner has HIV with an undetectable viral load, i.e. there is so little of the virus in the blood that it cannot be identified through tests, then it is unlikely you will require PrEP as the infection cannot be transmitted in such cases. Speak to your doctor about this if you have any concerns.
In instances when PrEP is used to prevent the infection of HIV in those injecting drugs, the risk is reduced by at least 74%
What’s the difference between PrEP and PEP?
PrEP is the medication to be taken before potential exposure to the virus known as HIV, to stop it from becoming established in your body. Anyone who consistently has sex with an HIV positive partner, has been diagnosed with an STD in the last several months, regularly fails to use condoms, has had multiple courses of PEP, or else anyone who injects drugs alongside an HIV positive partner should consider taking PrEP as a form of protection. In some cases, it can potentially be taken to stop a woman from catching HIV while trying to conceive with an HIV positive partner, or while pregnant or breastfeeding. However, this must be discussed with your doctor beforehand.
PEP, on the other hand, is to be taken after possible exposure to the virus has occurred. If it is likely, you could have come into contact with HIV, and then PEP can be made in an emergency within 72 hours of exposure. Known as post-exposure prophylaxis, the drug is generally taken twice a day for 28 days, and every hour you wait, post-exposure, counts. As such, if you fear you have been exposed to it, then beginning a course of PEP as soon as possible is crucial. It may be beneficial for anyone who has been exposed to HIV during sex, shared a needle with someone who is HIV positive or has been sexually assaulted. You can book a private appointment with one of the doctors from Click Pharmacy to discuss your course of action at any time.
How does PrEP work?
HIV is known a retrovirus, meaning it has a reverse enzyme transcriptase, or HIV enzyme, which allows it to convert its genetic material into DNA matching its ‘host’. It then uses that copied DNA to enter and infect the cells of the person in question. PrEP works by blocking this enzyme, thus preventing the virus from making copies of itself within the body and spreading.
When used alongside methods of safe sex such as condoms, it is a highly effective way of protecting the body from infection. It is important to note that it cannot protect against other STIs or pregnancy.
Can I buy PrEP treatment online?
Click Pharmacy is a registered online pharmacy and doctor service; as such, you can arrange an online appointment if you prefer or else complete the health questionnaire which will be assessed by one of our in-house experts. Once approved, your prescription will be generated, and you can purchase PrEP and have it sent directly and discreetly to your chosen address.
How long does it take for PrEP to become active?
It is advisable that when beginning the PrEP treatment that you leave at least seven days before possible exposure to allow the drug to reach high enough levels for protection.
Who should not take PrEP?
PrEP is not to be taken after possible exposure to HIV has occurred as it will not be effective in reducing your chances of developing the virus. Neither should it be used by those who are already diagnosed as HIV positive. Before beginning the treatment, you will likely be asked to take a test to ensure you are HIV negative.
You do not need to take PrEP if you are happy to wear a condom every time you have sexual intercourse. Neither should the drug be accepted without a doctor consultation if you are also taking medication which affects the kidneys such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) including ibuprofen.
Patient Information Leaflet
Always read the patient information leaflet before starting your treatment.
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