Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP)
UPDATED July 21 2017 - Newest Item is at top of Tools Listing
Pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, is a medication which, when taken daily, can protect those who are not HIV positive avoid HIV infection. It is a critical prevention method for those who are at substantial risk for HIV infection.
The PrEP pill (brand name Truvada®) contains two medicines (tenofovir and emtricitabine), both of which are actually used in combination with other medicines to treat HIV. Used as a method of prevention in the form of PrEp, when someone is exposed to HIV through sex or injection drug use, these medicines can work to keep the virus from establishing a permanent infection in the non-HIV positive person. When taken consistently, PrEP has been shown to reduce the risk of HIV infection in people who are at high risk by up to 92%. PrEP is much less effective if it is not taken consistently.
As of September 2015, WHO recommends that people at substantial risk of HIV infection should be offered PrEP as an additional choice in a comprehensive package of prevention services that also includes HIV testing, counseling, male and female condoms, voluntary medical male circumcision and others. PrEP can be combined with condoms and these other prevention methods to provide even greater protection than when used alone. People who use PrEP must commit to taking the drug every day and visiting their health care provider for follow-up every 3 months.
Social and Behavior Change Communication (SBCC) efforts regarding PrEP need to be addressed to many audiences:
- Decision makers and health policy advocates - to create national strategies for PrEP as part of HIV prevention programs, and to create plans for distribution of PrEP and guidelines for its use
- Service providers - training to assess their own attitudes toward implementation of PrEP counseling, and to obtain training about screening patients who might be candidates for PrEP, and how to explain the process, especially the need to take the drug every day
- Individuals - to encourage PrEP users to take the drug every day and to seek follow-up with their providers every 3 months.
There is a growing resource base of materials on PrEP as the usage trends grow, several of which are included in this Trending Topic.
Banner: Image from a 5 minute video - Get PrEPared: What African women need to know! by HPTN and Wits RHI