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Frequently Asked Questions - Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis!

Written and reviewed by
MBBS, PG Diploma (HIV Medicines)
HIV Specialist, Surat  •  14years experience
Frequently Asked Questions - Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis!

The people who are vulnerable to HIV infection are given regular medicine which is called pre-exposure prophylaxis. One has to use only one tablet per day. The use of condom along with it is beneficial.

1. What does it mean by PREP?
PREP means pre-exposure prophylaxis which prevents the infection. PREP prevents the infection of HIV even if one comes in the contact of the HIV virus. This comprises of a single tablet per day which is to be continued along with other regular medicines.

2. Why one should go for PREP?
Every year the numbers of HIV patients increases by infection. There is no vaccine or medicine available for abolishing HIV. This medicine is to be continued for the whole life. By regular intake of PREP, HIV protection can be obtained. By the use of condom along with the PREP, 100% protection can be achieved.

3. Is PREP a vaccine?
No. PREP is not injected like vaccine nor does it work as a vaccine. Vaccines provide protection against the disease for years while PREP medicine is to be taken for the whole life. This prevents the infection of HIV. This consists of two medicines, Tenofovir & Emtricitabine. This prevents the entry of the HIV virus into the human body & also prevents its growth within the body. If this is not taken regularly, benefits may not be obtained.

4. Who requires PREP?
 The people who are not HIV infected but are vulnerable should use PREP.
 Unsafe relations can cause HIV infection. Like partner is HIV infected, having more than one partners, homosexual males & those who have been infected with any other venereal diseases.
 People addicted to intoxication by syringe, not using new syringe every time.
 Mixed state couples in which one of the partners is HIV infected, then PREP to non-infected can be used while preparing for conception.
 Those who use PREP should get the blood tested at every three months & should consult the doctor.

5. What is the success ratio of PREP towards the prevention of HIV infection?
It is observed that the people who regularly take PREP are protected up to 92%.

6. Is PREP safe to use?
At the time of starting the PREP, some people suffer the light side effects like vomiting, acidity or nausea. But this vanishes within a short time. No fatal side effects are seen. If any trouble is observed, one should consult the doctor.

7. How to start the PREP?
 If anyone is vulnerable to HIV infection, he should consult the doctor & should combine decide to start the PREP. If the chances of HIV infection are liable to reduce by PREP, one should start the PREP as per the guidance of the doctor.
 The doctor shall test the blood along with kidney & lever tests. The result would decide whether the PREP is safe or not. If it is found to be safe, the course of PREP may be started. The patient using PREP would need to consult the doctor & blood test every three months. The counselor will guide for the regularity of medicine & the use of condoms.
 To get the maximum benefit of PREP, regularity is highly required. The counselor will help to have the regular doses to protect against HIV infection. If anyone has a problem in the regularity of medicine or if wants to stop the medication, he must follow the advice of a doctor.

8. If one uses PREP & does not use condoms, will it be tolerable?
One should never stop using condoms. One should use a condom for every physical relation even though they are under PREP treatment. PREP & condoms both are not able to provide 100% protection but when used together they provide 100% protection. Condoms provide protection against many other diseases over & above HIV while PREP provides protection against HIV virus only. Thus by using both together, 100% protection can be availed.

9. For how much period one has to use PREP?
 PREP is beneficial only if it is used regularly. PREP should be continued until the protection is required. One should consult the doctor about the requirement of PREP. PREP can be stopped in the following situations, like
 The risk of HIV infection is reduced due to the change in the lifestyle of a person & wants to stop the medicine.
 Those who are not able to take the medicine regularly & have found some other option for protection against HIV.
 If some serious side effects are seen than PREP should be stopped.

10. How many days does it take to provide protection against HIV after starting PREP?
Normally, after a month of starting of PREP, the maximum protection is obtained.

11. Can PREP be started or stopped periodically?
No. To get the maximum benefits of PREP, it must be taken daily & regularly. It cannot be stopped or started periodically. If this is done, the effect of PREP is reduced & results into the infection of HIV.

12. Can the PREP be started after infection of HIV?
PREP is useful to the people who are highly vulnerable to HIV infection. If someone is liable to get the infection by mishaps like unsafe relations, use of needles for intoxication or any mishap like rape, PREP shall not be useful. In such cases, P.E.P. is given for 28 days.

In case you have a concern or query you can always consult a specialist & get answers to your questions!
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