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Facts to Consider Before Starting a PrEP Treatment

A few decades ago, the probability of an HIV-positive person contracting the potentially fatal disease AIDS was fairly significant. The accompanying treatment choices were chosen in an effort to avoid unfavorable results and subsequently raise the quality of life. Thanks to preventive medications like PrEP, living a healthy and happy life is much simpler nowadays.

If you are at a high risk of contracting HIV, take prophylactic medicine. PrEP can now be easily purchased from trustworthy internet pharmacies. Thus, you can live a life free of tension and danger.

For in-depth details on PrEP medicine, keep reading.

What is PrEP medication?

Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, or PrEP, is a daily medication that can be taken with or without food to prevent HIV infection. HIV can affect your immune system if it is not prevented. Dangerous diseases and AIDS can result from a weakened immune system.

PrEP therapy, which usually comes in the form of a combination pill, is taken daily to prevent HIV infection during sex or drug injection. Tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (TDF) and emtricitabine are the active ingredients in the PrEP product known as Truvada.

A more recent medication called Descovy comprises the ingredients emtricitabine and tenofovir alafenamide (TAF). Descovy may not yet be accepted in various nations throughout the world. However, you may get the generic PrEP drug online.

The constituents in generic formulations are identical to those in brand-name equivalents. The efficacy of both generic and brand-name versions is the same. When a person chooses to take a generic medication instead of a brand-name medication, there is no compromise made.

How does PrEP work in your body?

PrEP pills work directly inside your body’s cells. The active ingredients in PrEP act as a shield to prevent HIV from entering the cells and multiplying itself. If HIV won’t enter the cells, there won’t be any infection, or its spread to other parts of the body. 

Normally, HIV infects the cells by converting its genetic material, called RNA, into DNA with reverse transcriptase. Thereafter, the DNA is used by the virus as an instruction manual to replicate itself inside the cells. The body’s immune cells are the places where the virus multiplies and spreads. Tenofovir and emtricitabine tend to block HIV reverse transcriptase, an enzyme needed for the virus to replicate. 

Difference between PrEP and PEP

PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) works as a prevention pill for those who are at a high risk of getting infected with HIV. For as long as the risk of HIV infection remains high, PrEP should be taken on a daily basis. PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) is a treatment medicine that should be taken if you have been exposed to HIV. It is advised that you should consume PEP within 72 hours of suspected exposure. PEP is not the solution if you are regularly exposed to HIV. 

Can I start PrEP after PEP?

You can switch from taking PEP to PrEP. If you wish then you can start PrEP right after PEP. It is advised to be on PrEP after taking PEP if you are continuously going to be at risk of getting HIV infection. However, the precautions remain the same whether you start taking PrEP after PEP or start PrEP normally. The most important precaution is to get tested for HIV infection before starting PrEP. Most often, the regimen of PrEP includes the medications that are used for PEP, so you should be aware of the medication and its possible side effects on your body. 

Geting tested while being on PrEP

You should get tested for HIV and other STDs before starting PrEP medication. It is preferred to get 4th generation HIV test than other tests, like a finger-prick test, because this test gives more accurate results about your HIV infection. If you have been involved in a high-risk activity before getting tested, it is advised to get the test done after 4 weeks to recheck whether you have HIV infection or not. If you recently experienced flu-like symptoms then you should not start PrEP because these can be the symptoms of HIV infection. 

Tests required before starting PrEP medication:

  • HIV
  • STIs
  • Kidney function tests
    • Creatinine 
    • eGFR
    • Urine protein analysis
  • Hepatitis B

Taking PrEP while you are HIV positive can lead to viral resistance. You may also consider getting tested for your kidney functions and hepatitis B. It’s important to check kidney function before starting PrEP because some people may experience kidney problems while taking PrEP. PrEP medicines also fight hepatitis B so it’s crucial to get tested for hepatitis B also before starting PrEP so that PrEP can be consumed in the safest and most effective way. 

How effective is PrEP?

PrEP medication can reduce the risk of getting HIV infection to almost zero. As per reports, if you take a PrEP pill daily, it can reduce the chances of getting HIV infection by 99%. For those who inject drugs, taking PrEP medication can reduce the chances of HIV infection by 70%. 

How can I increase the effectiveness of PrEP?

The risk of HIV infection can be further lowered if you take PrEP medication with the following precautions:

  • Using condoms while sex 
  • Not sharing needles while injecting drugs 
  • Regularly taking PrEP at or around the same time each day
  • Never skip the doses of PrEP

For best results, it is advised to take PrEP medication as prescribed. Or else, the risk of HIV infection may increase particularly if PrEP is not being taken daily. During anal sex (bottoming) PrEP can protect you completely after 7 days of initiating the daily pill. After 21 days of starting daily PrEP, you get full protection from HIV infection in the cases of receptive vaginal sex or drug injections.

Is it possible to infect someone while being on PrEP? 

You must be HIV-negative before starting PrEP medication. This simply means that you can infect anyone while taking PrEP medication. However, PrEP doesn’t protect you from other STIs, so if you have any STI, you can potentially spread the infection to another person during sex if condoms are not used. Hence, it is advised to practice safe sex while being on PrEP. 

Does PrEP protect against other STIs?

Although PrEP medicine is quite effective in preventing HIV infection, it doesn’t protect you against other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) like gonorrhea, chlamydia, or syphilis. Other methods of protection such as male condoms or internal (female) condoms should be used to be safe from STIs. Condoms also reduce the risk of getting viral STIs, like herpes and genital warts.

Is PrEP treatment expensive?

The cost of PrEP medication varies as per many factors such as the country you live in, the pharmacy, and the manufacturer. Initially, PrEP was only available to people in the UK who were involved in the IMPACT trial. Now as the trial has ended, PrEP medication can be available in NHS sexual health clinics. Taking a private prescription from a doctor may cost around £400 or more per month. PrEP is more affordable when purchased online. 

Personal import of PrEP is legal in countries like the UK, Singapore, Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, Spain, and others. So you can buy PrEP online from overseas online pharmacies. Usually, the cost of one month’s supply is lower at online pharmacies as compared to the cost when visiting a private doctor’s clinic. The generic versions of PrEP medication are available online at lower prices than the brand-name versions.

Should I take PrEP medication?

PrEP is good for you if you are HIV-negative and at a high risk of getting infected by HIV. In case you had anal or vaginal sex in the past six months, you should take PrEP pills if you:

  • Have not used condoms regularly during sex (bareback)
  • Have tested positive for an STD in the past six months
  • Have a sexual partner infected with HIV (even if there is an undetectable viral load)

People who inject rugs are at 22 times higher risk of HIV infection than the normal population, hence they should consider taking PrEP medication. If you don’t inject drugs, but your sexual partner does then also you are at risk of getting HIV infection. In case you regularly share syringes, needles, or other injectable tools, you should take PrEP to prevent HIV infection. 

If PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) has been prescribed to you earlier and you continue to engage in high-risk activities, then you should consider taking PrEP. In case you have taken more than a couple of PEP medicine courses in the past, then also PrEP is recommended for you.

PrEP medication is recommended for pregnant women who have an HIV-positive partner so that they and their babies can be protected against HIV infections. You should also consult your doctor about the suitability of PrEP for you if you are pregnant with an HIV-positive partner. Women who are trying to get pregnant or are breastfeeding can take PrEP medication as studies have shown that PrEP is safe during pregnancy and breastfeeding

What is event-based PrEP?

Event-based PrEP is a more flexible method of HIV prevention and is also knowns as on-demand PrEP or the 2-1-1 schedule. Event-based PrEP requires you to take two tablets of PrEP 2-24 hours before having sex. Then one more tablet should be taken after 24 hours of the double dose taken prior to engaging in the sexual activity. Thereafter, one more PrEP pill should be consumed after 24 hours. Event-based PrEP is good for those who don’t want to take daily PrEP and can easily anticipate when they are going to have sex. Event-based PrEP is equally effective as daily PrEP.

Are there any side effects of PrEP?

Like other medications, there are some possible side effects of PrEP. Although PrEP side effects are very rare, some individuals can experience short-term PrEP side effects, such as nausea, diarrhea, and stomach discomfort. Usually, the side effects are temporary and slowly go away as the body gets used to the PrEP medication. Common side effects of PrEP are:

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Feeling tired
  • Dizziness
  • Insomnia
  • Unusual dreams 
  • Rash

In some rare cases, kidney problems can be experienced during PrEP medication. It is advised that you should monitor laboratory values that evaluate kidney function, including serum creatinine, creatinine clearance, as well as protein, and glucose in the urine, before and during PrEP treatment. Your doctor can suggest you these tests be done on a regular basis.

In some cases, PrEP medication can decrease bone mineral density (BMD). Studies suggest that those who take PrEP regularly may experience a 1.2% decrease in BMD in the spine and a 0.5% decrease in BMD in the hip. However, for most PrEP users, this decrease in BMD doesn’t lead to any severe adverse effects. Those who are at risk of bone fractures should monitor their BMD regularly. 

You should also discuss any other possible side effects, and drug interactions with your doctor before starting PrEP.

Other frequently asked questions about PrEP medication

Who should take PrEP?

people who are at high risk of getting HIV infection should consider taking PrEP. Those HIV-negative people who engage in sex without condoms or take injectable drugs should consider taking PrEP medication. Anal sex poses a 10-times higher danger than vaginal sex in terms of HIV infections.

Should I use condoms while taking PrEP?

In terms of HIV prevention, PrEP is more effective than condoms. However, PrEP doesn’t protect against other STIs like gonorrhea or chlamydia, so condoms should be used as protection.

Can you feel tired because of taking PrEP?

Usually, PrEP is a safe medicine. But for a small percentage of people, PrEP can cause a bit of tiredness or fatigue. Since every human body reacts to PrEP medication differently, so you may or may not experience any fatigue or tiredness while taking PrEP.

Can you consume alcohol while taking PrEP?

Studies suggest that there are no interactions between alcohol and PrEP. Since it’s important to take PrEP on a regular basis, excessive consumption of alcohol can affect your ability to follow the regimen of PrEP treatment and lower the effectiveness of PrEP indirectly.

Do I need to take PrEP forever?

PrEP is most effective when taken regularly on a daily basis. However, some people may stop taking PrEP due to various reasons like not engaging in any high-risk behavior anymore, experiencing some severe side effects, or frequently forgetting to take the pills.

Can PrEP be taken with other medicines?

Very few medications have any interaction with PrEP. You can monitor or avoid using NSAIDs while taking PrEP as these medicines put pressure on the Kidneys and cause Kidney problems. Other medicines that can possibly affect the kidneys are Zovirax (acyclovir), Valtrex (valacyclovir), and Cytovene (ganciclovir). You may consult your doctor for other possible drug interactions associated with PrEP.

Trans people taking PrEP medication need not worry about any interaction with hormone replacement treatment. 

What should I understand before taking PrEP?

You should get certain tests done before starting PrEP to understand your eligibility for taking PrEP. These tests are performed by your health care provider.

Can you take PEP if you are on PrEP?

PEP, or post-exposure prophylaxis, should be taken if you think that you have been exposed to HIV through sex or sharing needles. PEP is taken as a precautionary measure. If you are aware that you will continuously be engaged in high-risk behavior then you can consider taking PrEP, or pre-exposure prophylaxis, to reduce your risk of getting HIV.

What is the best PrEP medicine?

The one that works for you is the best PrEP medicine. There are generic PrEP medications containing a combination of tenofovir and emtricitabine. These active ingredients lower the chances of an HIV infection. You should consult your doctor to decide on the appropriate PrEP dosage based on your overall condition.

Is it safe and legal to buy and import PrEP medications online from overseas pharmacies?

In countries like the UK, Australia, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, and a few others, it is completely safe and legal to buy PrEP online from reputed online pharmacies. You should check your country’s requirements before buying PrEP online. 

If you wish to purchase PrEP online, DeliverDose can help you with the best quality affordable PrEP medication delivered to your doorstep in discreet packaging. On certain order values, a free shipping facility is provided as well.

DeliverDose prioritizes your health and privacy while delivering the best quality medicines at affordable prices.

Find out more about buying PrEP online safely

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