For years, condoms have been one of the most effective ways to prevent the sexual transmission of HIV infection. Recently, a new way to prevent HIV transmission has come about: PrEP.
PrEP stands for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, which basically means that individuals who are at-risk of being exposed to HIV can protect themselves before that happens.
How PrEP Works
PrEP is a pill prescribed by a doctor that is taken daily to prevent HIV infection. The pill must be taken before exposure in order to be effective. PrEP is recommended for a full range of persons who are at a higher risk for getting HIV, including:
- Men who have unprotected sex with men
- Women who have unprotected sex with men
- Sex workers
- Intravenous drug users
PrEP can be confused with PEP, also known as post-exposure prophylaxis, which stands for post-exposure prophylaxis. The difference is that PEP is taken after exposure has occurred, while PrEP is taken before exposure to limit the ability to transmit the virus in the first place.
How Long Do You Take It?
Most people take PrEP in “seasons.” This means that at some times in your life, it may make sense to take PrEP. While at other times, you may not need it at all. PrEP only works if you take it at the same time every day and it is NOT a substitute for condoms.
Does it Start Working Right Away?
According the CDC, PrEP offers maximum protection after it has been in the blood stream for 20 days. If you start taking PrEP, it is recommended to still use condoms, especially before the 20 day mark.
Who Can Get PrEP?
Absolutely anyone who is at risk to get HIV can be prescribed PrEP. It is highly encouraged for discordant couples. UNM Truman Health Services can prescribe and dispense PrEP medication for discordant couples and other individuals at risk for HIV.
Make a PrEP Appointment at UNM Truman Health Services
If you are interested in PrEP, contact UNM Truman Health Services. Our doctors specialize in HIV care and can advise the best methods for you to prevent HIV infection. 505.272.1312