PrEP daily to prevent HIV infection

Update on PrEP daily to prevent HIV infection


We all know that there is no cure yet for HIV or AIDS, but few people know that there is a pill that can prevent infection in the first place. PrEP — “pre-exposure prophylaxis” — is a pill taken once per day. Last month the United States Preventive Services Task Force endorsed the effectiveness of PrEP, giving it a Grade “A” classification (highly recommended).

The Task Force examined the results of 12 randomized studies (the best type of research) and found that all the studies showed a significant benefit from taking PrEP versus a placebo.

What is PrEP?

It is one pill that is a combination of two drugs—tenofovir disoproxil fumarate and emtricitabine—that interfere with HIV infection and replication.

Who should take it?

People at risk include men who have sexual relations with other men, people HIV negative but have a seropositive partner, sex workers, and IV drug users. It should only be taken by people who have NOT been infected with the virus (seronegative), and is especially indicated for those who sometimes do not use condoms.

How effective is PrEP?

If taken once a day, as it should be, PrEP reduces the risk of HIV infection by between 90% and 99%. Surveys show that many people on PrEP do not faithfully take the medication every day, and their level of protection then will be less than 90%. People who want to be more certain to stay seronegative can use PrEP along with condoms.

Side effects

The most common side effects are nausea and headaches, but these symptoms usually resolve over time. There is a small chance of kidney damage or bone thinning, but these are probably reversible. A study in Open Forum Infectious Diseases (2016) concluded that PrEP “favorably compares with aspirin in terms of user safety”. It is considered likely safe for pregnant women as well.

Other STDs

PrEP does not prevent any other sexually transmitted diseases, such as syphilis, gonorrhea, herpes, hepatitis C, and chlamydia. Only condoms prevent these problems, which is a good reason to use condoms along with PrEP.  Everyone on preventative treatment should be regularly checked for STDs.

SUS provides

SUS provides this medication without charge to people in high-risk groups. A study in Brazil published this year demonstrated that widespread use of PrEP, besides decreasing the rate of infection, is also cost-effective for the public health. The cost of PrEP is much less than the financial (and physical) costs of treating someone who becomes infected with HIV.

To find a doctor, of any specialty, anywhere in Brazil, check out our website:

See also in ProcuraMed:

What is new in the battle against HIV and AIDS?

What is your microbiome, and why it is your friend

Esta postagem também está disponível em: Portuguese (Brazil)

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