Should you be on PrEP?

If you’re sexually active, HIV negative and at a high risk of contracting the virus i.e. in a sexual relationship with someone who is HIV positive, having unprotected sex or sleeping with multiple partners (which I don’t encourage, Choma) then you should consider being on PrEP (Pre-exposure prophylaxis)

How does it work?

If you’re taking PrEP as instructed and you happen to get exposed to HIV, then there’ll be high levels of the medication in your body that’ll prevent you from getting HIV. You have to take the pill once a day with or without food and it’s recommended that you take it around the same time daily. If you miss the pill, all you have to do is take it immediately but remember, you can’t take more than one at the same time. PrEP takes 7 days before it works, once you start taking it. It’s important to remember that PrEP doesn’t cure HIV but it decreases your chances of getting it.

Who can take PrEP?

PrEP is prescribed to HIV-negative adults and adolescents who are at high risk of getting HIV through sex or injection drug use. For example, if your partner is HIV positive and you are trying for a baby, then your healthcare provider may prescribe PrEP.

Why should you consider PrEP?

PrEP is highly effective when taken as advised by a healthcare provider. The pill is taken once daily and reduces the risk of you getting HIV from sex by more than 90%, and among people who inject drugs, it reduces the risk by more than 70%.

Your risk of getting HIV from sex can be even lower if you combine PrEP with condoms (which I highly advise). It’s also safe to use since there are no major side effects that have been seen in people who are HIV-negative and have taken PrEP for up to 5 years. Some people taking PrEP have reported some side effects, like nausea, but these are usually not serious and go away over time.

Where can you get PrEP?

If you think PrEP may be right for you, then you can visit your nearest government clinic or doctor so that you can get a PrEP prescription. Since PrEP is for people who are HIV-negative, you’ll have to get an HIV test before starting PrEP and you may need to get other tests to make sure it’s safe for you to use the medication. If you take PrEP, you’ll need to see your health provider every 3 months for repeat HIV tests, prescription refills, and follow-ups.

Remember Choma, PrEP only reduces your chances of getting infected with HIV, it doesn’t prevent you from getting STIs or against unplanned pregnancies. So, I’d highly advise you to always use a condom even if you’re on PrEP. Remember that your sexual health is entirely in your hands, take responsibility for it and make sure that you do all you can to stay sexually healthy. Reduce risk by staying informed and taking action towards a healthy lifestyle.

If you need more information or help, you can contact me on Ask Choma, send me a Facebook Messagea Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657).