HIV Prevention: To HIV PrEP or not to HIV PrEP?
If you’re reading this, most probably you would have an awareness about HIV and are worried about getting infected. Rightfully so, as there is still no cure for HIV and it can lead to a severe disease called AIDS and eventually death.
Every year more than 400 new cases of HIV are reported in Singapore the majority of which are still in the prime of their lives between the ages of 20-49. So if you are HIV negative and sexually active, you have a right to be afraid of HIV infection. So what do we have to protect ourselves from this deadly virus? Well, the condom helps to reduce HIV transmission, STDs and pregnancy very well.
What if you are not able to use the condom? Or not keen to use the condom? Or worried about condom mishaps? This is where PrEP comes in.
Learn more: “A Quick Breakdown on How HIV Can be Transmitted”
What is PrEP?
PrEP stands for Pre- Exposure Prohylaxis. Prophylaxis means prevention. HIV PrEP involves taking one pill a day to prevent HIV infection.
How effective is PrEP?
It is effective in preventing HIV transmission up to 99%
How does it work?
PrEP prevents HIV from infecting your cells and multiplying. So if you do get exposed to the HIV virus, you will not get infected.
Do I need to take it daily?
For the PrEP to be effective, it needs to be taken daily. For men it will be take 7 days before its effective. For women it will take 3 weeks for it to be effective.
What is the difference between PrEP and PEP?
PrEP is pre exposure. HIV Post Exposure Prophylaxis is post exposure. PrEP is to be taken before you are exposed. PEP is taken only after you are exposed to a potentially high risk sexual encounter. PrEP is one pill to be taken daily. PEP is made up of 2 pills taken for a month. PEP has lower protection rate than PrEP.
Am I suitable for PrEP?
You are a suitable for HIV PrEP if you are any of the following:
You are a gay/bisexual man and
- have an HIV-positive partner.
- have multiple partners, a partner with multiple partners, or a partner whose HIV status is unknown –and– you also
- have anal sex without a condom, or
- recently had a sexually transmitted disease (STD).
You are a heterosexual and
- have an HIV-positive partner.
- have multiple partners, a partner with multiple partners, or a partner whose HIV status is unknown –and–you also don’t always use a condom for sex with people who inject drugs, or don’t always use a condom for sex with bisexual men.
You inject drugs and
- share needles or equipment to inject drugs.
- recently went to a drug treatment program.
- are at risk for getting HIV from sex.
What is HIV PrEP Event-Driven Based Strategy?
Are there any side effects?
Like any drugs, PrEP does have side effects. In a small number of people, there is some gastrointestinal discomfort (e.g. gas, bloating nausea) or dizziness when starting PrEP. For those who do experience discomfort it nearly always goes away after about a month. There is also concern that PrEP may affect your kidney or bone function. Your doctor will monitor your bloods regulrly to check for this.
Do I still need to use condoms?
Taking PrEP and using condoms will further increase your protection rate from HIV. Taking PrEP is protective enough against HIV. However, you are still at risk for other STDs. For women, you still can get pregnant. Also a periodic STD and HIV Testing is needed to to check on your STD and HIV stats.
What if still have questions?
Call or email us to make an appointment with any of our clinics. Speak to the doctor to discuss if PrEP is really suitable for you.