Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) is the use of medication that HIV-negative individuals take to prevent them from becoming HIV-positive.
PrEP works at preventing HIV by creating a biological barrier against HIV in your body. When taken as prescribed PrEP is more effective at preventing HIV than using condoms.
Deciding whether you should take PrEP or if PrEP is right for you is a very personal decision and should be based upon your level of risk and also about what your levels of anxiety are regarding HIV transmission. Other considerations involve being able to adhere to taking a medication as prescribed. With busy lives sometimes people can forget to take their medication and when people take PrEP infrequently this can lower the level of protection offered by the medication, it could also mean that if you become HIV positive when taking PrEP irregularly, the HIV you have could be resistant to PrEP which is also one of the most important drugs to treat HIV .
Research has shown that PrEP can negatively impact on some people’s kidney functioning and on their bone density. These issues are rare, but it is important that you have them regularly checked with your doctor.
Remember, PrEP is only one way to prevent HIV and that it does not provide any protection against other STIs. If you decide to stop using condoms or reduce your condom use, then it is important to keep up regular sexual health testing so that if you do get an STI other than HIV you can easily have it treated.
Whilst there are no legal or medical guidelines in Australia around who should be on PrEP, it could be argued that all people at risk of HIV should consider being on PrEP, and more directly gay, bisexual and trans guys who have condomless sex, are in sero-discordant relationships or engage in intravenous drug use consider the benefits of PrEP in conjunction with other risk reduction strategies.
Deciding whether you should take PrEP or if PrEP is right for you is a very personal decision and should be based upon your level of risk and also about what your levels of anxiety are regarding HIV transmission.
Side effects have been reported by people after commencing PrEP, but these side effects vary from person to person and in their severity. Some of the more common side effects include nausea and headaches; however these usually subside within a week or so. If you experience side effects that do not resolve quickly, or are a concern to you then it is important to talk to your doctor.
Other side effects which can involve kidney function and bone density.. To make sure that PrEP is not having a negative impact on your kidneys and bone density you will need to see a doctor regularly to have these monitored.
Access to PrEP in Australia is a bit more complicated than some other places around the world. In Australia there are several options for accessing PrEP, such as ordering online from overseas, enrolling in a clinical trial or having it prescribed by a local GP and accessing it locally. For more information check out www.prepdforchange.com