Just as we've started getting our heads around Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP), now comes PrEP, or Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis. It may be a little confusing but ultimately it means that we're adding yet another weapon to the arsenal we can use in the fight against the HI Virus (HIV).
What is the difference between PEP and PrEP?
The primary difference between the two strategies is that PEP is a course of anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs) that is taken within 72 hours AFTER a risky sexual encounter.
PrEP, however is taken as an on-going course of ARVs by guys who are at a continued high risk of exposure - this could, for example, include a couple in which one of the guys is HIV-positive and the other is HIV negative (known as a “servo-discordant” couple). As part of a strategy to avoid becoming infected by his positive partner, the HIV negative partner could go on to PrEP. In other word, he begins taking ARVs BEFORE the risky exposure.
Is PrEP available yet?
PrEp is still somewhat experimental, but more and more studies are showing that it can be a very effective approach. Results indicate that PrEp can be up to 90% effective in stopping infection, depending in some cases on the type of medication and how well subjects stuck to taking the medication correctly and consistently. A number of studies have specifically focused on men who have sex with men (MSM) which means that we have a good understanding of its effectiveness among gay, bisexual or even straight men who have sex with guys.
Is PrEP 100% effective against HIV-infection?
Like PEP, PrEP is not 100% effective and is not for everyone.
When will PreP be available?
Research is currently on-going. Keep visiting the men2men website for updates regarding the latest research results and for more information on PrEP.