What is Pre-exposure Prophylaxis?
Pre-exposure prophylaxis is used to prevent disease transmission in people who have not yet been exposed to the HIV virus via the exchange of bodily fluids through sexual intercourse or from the sharing of needles.
Who is PrEP for?
Prep can be prescribed to men and women aged 18 or over who have been tested HIV-negative and those who may have a higher chance of getting HIV.
If you don't use condoms when having sex with someone whose HIV status is unknown to you, you may be at a higher risk, other factors include:
a transgender individual who has had intercourse with men
having sex with someone from a country that has a high percentage of HIV
a woman who has sex with bisexuals
a man who engages in sex with other men
You may also be at a higher risk of contracting HIV if you:
are having intercourse with an HIV-positive individual
are using needles to inject drugs and sharing those needles with others
work in the sex industry
often develop STIs
What is Emtricitabine/Tenofovir?
Emtricitabine/Tenofovir is a generic version of Truvada, this medication is commonly used for HIV infection prophylaxis and prevention.
Emtricitabine and Tenofovir are the two active ingredients that function by preventing HIV from spreading and multiplying throughout the body when you are first exposed to the virus and allowing your immune system to function more effectively. Although emtricitabine and tenofovir will not cure HIV, they may reduce your risk of getting AIDS and HIV-related illnesses.
Emtricitabine/Tenofovir can often be prescribed concomitantly with other medication (antiretrovirals) in order to manage active HIV infection, this needs to be initiated under a specialist doctor and treatment carefully discussed with your practitioner, PrEP is not intended for self- treatment of active HIV. It is important that you get regular HIV tests throughout your use of PrEP to ensure you HIV negative status. Inadvertent Use of PrEP whilst you may be HIV positive could lead to possible resistant strains of HIV which could drastically impact the effectiveness of treatment options if you do become positive in the future.
How do I take Emtricitabine/Tenofovir?
This medication comes in the form of a tablet and is taken orally swallowed with or without food with a full glass of water. There are many regimens to take PrEP. For the best effect, it is recommended to take this medication once daily 7 days a week at a routine time. This method is known as the daily method and offers the highest level of protection including protection from transmission via anal, vaginal and frontal sex. Other methods for regimens include the “on demand dosing” , “event based dosing” or the “4 pills a week method” (also known as T’s and S’s) but these dosage methods only suitable for anal sex.
How long does emtricitabine/tenofovir take to work?
It takes about four days for emtricitabine/tenofovir to start working in men and up to seven days for women.
What are the side effects of Emtricitabine/Tenofovir?
With any medication, most people won’t experience side effects after taking Emtricitabine/Tenofovir, however some common side effects can occur such as:
Having trouble falling asleep
feeling sick and being sick (vomiting)
pain in the stomach
rashes or swelling of the skin
Less common side effects would include:
anemia (a lack of red blood cells, or hemoglobin, in the blood)
muscular pain and weakness
yellow and itchy eyes
stiffness in the joints
Lactic acidosis, a condition in which lactic acid builds up in the body, causing sleepiness and respiratory difficulties.
If you notice any of the above symptoms or have a negative reaction to them, please inform your doctor right away.
What test should I get before starting PrEP?
Before you are prescribed prEP, it is requirement that you are tested negative for and to mon:
Hepatitis B and C
kidney function (creatinine and estimated Glomerular Filtration Rate; eGFR)
Can I take PrEP with other medications?
Make sure to list all medications you're taking, including over-the-counter medications, while taking our online evaluation or talking to your doctor about PrEP.
If you start taking any new medicines while using PrEP, make sure to contact your doctor/ prescriber and keep them informed. Do not initiate any medication without first consulting your doctor or pharmacist..