PrEP for HIV-Positive Person: Is It Dangerous?

Why do you need to protect yourself with PrEP medication while there are other safer sex measures? Is it safe? What if you become HIV-positive? These are some of the questions most of the people ask before realizing their importance. We provide the ultimate solution in this guide.

There are shreds of evidence where some individuals get infected while using PrEP. How did they get the virus while using the most highly effective medication? They might continue using HIV PrEP, unknowingly posing some other medical concerns leading to complications treating the virus. But the question is… is it dangerous?

Can you take PrEP if you have HIV? At HIVPrEP, we are concerned about your health while using PrEP drugs. Join me as we discuss how this experience can contribute to adverse consequences in preventing and treating HIV and other health conditions.

PrEP is only prescribed for HIV-negative individuals who are healthy. Although there are other ways to protect yourself from being infected with the virus, there are some factors that demand another layer of protection to ensure you stay safe and uninfected. You may not know your partner’s HIV status and you may never know how you’ll behave when you’re drunk or using injection drugs.

With those experiences, PrEP may be the ultimate solution. But are you sure you’ll exercise other safe sex practices when you’re drunk for higher protection? This is a debatable question. That’s why, depending on individual sexual behavior, the protection from PrEP tablets may not be 100 percent safe. Protection from these drugs is known to be more than 90% effective. Applying other safer sex precautions will boost this percentage higher as long as you adhere to the dosage information.

💊What Are PrEP Drugs Used For?

While in the course of researching treatment and a cure for HIV/AIDS, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) medications were discovered. It’s the ultimate drug taken by HIV-negative persons who think they’re at high-risk of exposure to HIV-1 infection and they need to effectively protect themselves.

Truvada is the most widely used drug for HIV prevention. It’s the most effective and tolerable drug associated with few side effects. There are other cost-effective generic versions of Truvada that do the same work.

It’s a daily tablet taken by HIV-negative persons. For guaranteed protection, never miss the tablets and have a sober mind to apply other effective protections, such as using a condom and limiting the use of alcohol or injection drugs.

HIV PrEP meds protect you from getting the virus. But it doesn’t always work as you expect, especially if used alone. The specialists recommend using other safe sex practices to increases the protection to up to 99%.

You have a task to complete. I don’t think you want to get infected just because you didn’t adhere to the HIV PrEP prescription. What was the reason for using PrEP medication at first? Most people don’t follow the PrEP guidelines as recommended and they end up getting the virus.

Following the recommended dosage, never missing the dose and adhering to safe sex practices are some of the steps to take for the drug to be highly effective and provide you with higher protection. But can you meet this ideal?

For example, most people who are diagnosed with an illness may never fully adhere to the drug prescription. How about a healthy person who is prescribed PrEP? Can he/she adhere to the PrEP prescriptions?

👨‍🔬Clinical Study of PrEP Effectiveness

The effectiveness of PrEP lies solely in the drug efficacy, tolerability (or side effects), and the individual’s sexual relations and behaviors. PrEP is feasible and acceptable for a range of HIV at-risk populations.

A drug combination of emtricitabine and tenofovir are effective provided the individual complies. Truvada and its generics provide a 90-99% decrease in HIV infection if used consistently – taking a pill every day without missing any. This is to achieve and maintain adequate levels of TDF/FTC in the bloodstream.

Missing a daily dose may lower the drug’s effectiveness and the level of protection may decrease. Furthermore, its effectiveness is reduced if other HIV protection strategies are not used.

There are some factors that may affect the effectiveness of TDF/FTC. Some of these factors include drug resistance to the tenofovir/emtricitabine (genetic resistance), not adhering to dosage guidelines and failing to apply other HIV prevention methods, such as having condomless sexual intercourse, drinking too much alcohol and its related practices.

Research shows that the level of drug resistance in some countries is higher than the well-known one percent. For example, Sub-Saharan Africa holds a higher percentage of 57% among individuals failing therapy. Europe stands somewhere around 20%. This is according a research report (2016) from the TenoRes Study Group [1].

TDF/FTC doesn’t give the ultimate protection instantly. More time (20-30 days) is needed for the drug to be highly effective. You don’t start medication today and expect protection to be highly effective.

The effectiveness of this drug in gay men is not up to the mark according to some studies. Its protection is further reduced if an individual doesn’t adhere to the medication. In this case, protection is decreased to below 90% (illustrated as high-risk of getting the infection).

This is not the case for all gay people using PrEP. There is other research (from NEJM) showing the effectiveness of this drug among high-risk gay men fully adhering to the therapy. This is a clinical test and it does not translate to real-world situations where other factors (such as sexual behavior and lifestyle) vary from person to person [2].

It’s very important to get into a training course to know the effectiveness of PrEP. There are side effects and other factual information an individual should be aware of prior, during and after PrEP medication.

🔍Can You Take PrEP If You Are Already HIV Infected?

PrEP is a medical strategy used by HIV uninfected individuals to protect themselves from contracting the virus. Many people think PrEP provides them with adequate protection, stopping or reducing the use of other proven HIV-1 infection prevention measures such as condoms.

This puts them at high-risk of virus infection. Some people may assume they’re protected and continue using PrEP without adhering to safe sex measures or regularly visiting a doctor for follow-up, putting them in danger.

Before administering PrEP, consult with a doctor. Openly discuss your sexual life and all the high-risk ways you might be infected with HIV. Remember, you’re aiming to protect yourself and the doctor knows how best to prescribe the right medication for you.

An indicator of high risk of HIV exposure is a diagnosis with rectal chlamydia while using PrEP. This infection poses a high risk for HIV infection as it increases the transmission of HIV. If this happens, it’s important to further examine your PrEP and your sexual behavior.

As earlier stated, PrEP does not always work as expected. Some PrEP users may be resistant to HIV PrEP medication and they end up being infected with the virus. Others may never adhere to the drug prescription or add another layer of protection, like safe sex measures, and end up being infected while using PrEP, like Joe’s PrEP failure [3].

This is dangerous and continual use of PrEP drugs while HIV-positive put your health at high-risk or complicate treating the virus. First, continued use of emtricitabine/tenofovir as PrEP while infected make the virus less sensitive to HIV/AIDS medications. The HIV virus will be resistant to anti-HIV medications, making it difficult to manage and treat the virus (the speed in which it replicates is high than the rate of treating the virus).

📜Conclusion

Taking PrEP while you’re infected with the virus is dangerous. It’s highly recommended that you regularly visit a doctor for HIV tests and other assessments for things that may put your health at risk while using PrEP. There is no 100 percent guarantee that you’ll get the protection from PrEP even if you adhere to medication.

If it happens that you suspect you’ve been infected with HIV-1 while on PrEP, stop the medication immediately with your doctor’s guidance. Never terminate the medication on your own.

Further analysis is needed before you’re prescribed with the right HIV-1 treatment.

To stay protected from high-risk consequences, there is value in being informed (or trained), fully following PrEP medication guidelines and most importantly, adding another layer of HIV protection with safe sex practices.

Having adhered to these, regularly check your HIV status. Perform multiple and continuous HIV tests and never assume you’re protected. You have a responsibility to take care of your own health.

📚References:

  1. Global epidemiology of drug resistance after failure of WHO recommended first-line regimens for adult HIV-1 infection: a multicentre retrospective cohort study. The TenoRes Study Group. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Retrieved 2016.
  2. On-Demand Preexposure Prophylaxis in Men at High Risk for HIV-1 Infection. Jean-Michel Molina, M.D., Catherine Capitant, M.D., Bruno Spire, M.D., Ph.D., Gilles Pialoux, M.D., Laurent Cotte, M.D., Isabelle Charreau, M.D., Cecile Tremblay, M.D., Jean-Marie Le Gall, Ph.D., Eric Cua, M.D., Armelle Pasquet, M.D., François Raffi, M.D., Claire Pintado, M.D. for the ANRS IPERGAY Study Group. Nejm.org. Retrieved December 3, 2015.
  3. Meet the Man Who Got HIV While on Daily PrEP. Poz.com. Retrieved March 3, 2016.
Logan Morris

Expert in pharmaceutical practice and antiviral medicine, founder of HIVPrEP. Main goal is to popularize HIV topics and create awareness for global masses on how to prevent the disease and how to use HIV medication safely.

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