HIV prevention is constantly evolving and biomedical interventions are the newest tools in the HIV prevention toolbox! Read more about PrEP and PEP, which people can use to reduce their risk of acquiring HIV upon exposure.
Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) is a new and exciting HIV prevention strategy in the form of a one-a-day medicine (Truvada®). When used daily as prescribed, it is more than 92% effective in preventing HIV transmission. For an individual on PrEP, HIV infection can become practically non-existent if it’s taken correctly alongside condoms and other prevention strategies.
Efficacy depends on the user. For maximum protection, it is recommended to take the medication once a day. It takes 7 days for Truvada® to become effective in rectal tissue and 20 days in vaginal or urethral tissue. If a dose of Truvada® is missed, the protection level will decrease.
Side effects such as nausea, diarrhea, stomach cramps, and headaches may occur in the first two weeks of starting Truvada®. Fortunately, these effects tend to go away shortly and don’t necessarily happen to everyone. More serious side effects are rare.
PrEP is recommended for men who have sex with men (MSM), transgender women, and people in sero-discordant relationships. Nonetheless, anyone at increased risk of exposure to HIV may benefit from Truvada® as PrEP.
To access PrEP, it is recommended to have a consultation with a medical professional. In Boulder, the Beacon Center for Infectious Disease has a long history of providing quality HIV care to the community. This clinic also has experience in providing consultation, navigation, and medical care to people who are interested in accessing PrEP. Contact the Beacon Center for Infectious Disease at 303-415-8850 for more information or to set up an appointment.
For additional PrEP resources in Colorado, click HERE.
Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) is an intensive four-week medication regimen to be taken within 72 hours after exposure to HIV. The sooner PEP is started within the 72-hour window period, the better. When taken as directed, it is a very effective strategy to reduce HIV transmission.
PEP is prescribed to be taken once or twice daily for 28 days. PEP is safe, but involves a high concentration level of anti-retroviral medications. As a result, side effects like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headaches, and fatigue are common; however, these can all be treated. Though adherence is challenging, it’s imperative to follow the regimen as prescribed for maximum efficacy.
When considering PEP after possible or known exposure to HIV, seek the nearest urgent care provider or emergency room doctor right away. There also is a 24-hour PEP Hotline that can be reached toll-free at 1-888-448-4911.