How Effective Is PrEP in Preventing HIV?

Pre-exposure prophylaxis has become the subject of many debates. Arguments and studies have been carried out to determine the effectiveness of this drug in preventing HIV. People who are constantly being exposed to the human immunodeficiency viruses are advised to commence PrEP drugs to help them prevent the virus from infecting and spreading through their body system.

Are pre-exposure prophylaxis medications really effective? Do they actually prevent the spread of HIV? These questions have been raised by critics and average individuals alike.

Pre-exposure prophylaxis has been proven effective in reducing the spread of HIV infection. In fact, results from clinical trials have shown that more than 90% reduction in the risk of contracting the virus can be achieved. However, for this level of protection to be achieved, individuals following the strategy must take the pills every day as prescribed [1].

🔍Do PrEP Drugs Really Work?

Many people question PrEP HIV effectiveness. Does the strategy actually work, or is it just a new treatment that is still under trial? Here’s all you need to know about this HIV preventive strategy.

Pre-exposure prophylaxis drugs have been proven to be quite effective in the prevention of HIV. As such, it has been approved by the FDA as a reputable preventive measure for HIV. It can prevent human immunodeficiency viruses from infiltrating and spreading through your body. When used daily and as prescribed, Prophylaxis drugs can reduce the risk of contracting HIV by more than 90%. However, when it is not used daily or according to prescription, its efficacy begins to drop [2].

Prophylaxis medicines can be used as an effective HIV preventive measure for people who:

  • have unprotected sex with a partner whose HIV status or viral load is unknown;
  • have sexual intercourse with an HIV positive partner;
  • have multiple sexual partners;
  • inject substances and make use of recreational drugs;
  • have had multiple STIs in recent times.

When used consistently and rightly, anti-HIV med reduces the risk of contracting HIV among people who inject drugs by a whopping 70%. In the same vein, these medicines equally reduce the risk of contracting HIV through sexual intercourse by 90%. Generally, this medicine has been proven to be 90-92% effective in the prevention of HIV.

However, it is important to note that while this HIV preventive strategy may be very effective in the prevention of HIV, it does not prevent other STDs. As such, individuals who are on the med should endeavor to practice safe sex until there is a zero risk of contracting the virus [3].

📝Main Factors That Affect PrEP Efficacy

Inasmuch as prophylaxis meds are effective for preventing HIV, there are several factors that determine how effective these meds would be on an individual. These factors determine and decide whether the anti-HIV drugs would work on an individual or not.

Some of these factors include:

  • consistency: the meds are more effective when one is consistent with the use. The more consistent one is, the more protection he/she has against HIV. It is possible to contract HIV while following the strategy if one is inconsistent with his/her usage of the meds. On the other hand, consistency with the drugs would ensure that risk levels are greatly decreased. If one misses a daily dose of the drug, the effectiveness would still exist but there would be a decrease in the levels of protection. Thus, daily and correct use of the drugs is recommended so as to achieve and maintain maximum protection;
  • adherence: Adherence to the general guidelines of prophylaxis drugs can also determine its efficacy to a great extent. Individuals who adhere strictly to the dosage rules and guidelines of the strategy are more likely to get maximum protection from HIV than others.

👨‍🔬Clinical Trials

There have been several trials and studies carried out in order to test the effectiveness of HIV preventive medicines. One significant study is the PROUD Study which was conducted in England. This study collected its samples and control groups from a population of homosexual men and the results were released in 2015. The sample of men who participated in the study were men who had extremely high chances of getting infected with HIV. It includes men who had had STIs in the past, inconsistent use of condoms or protection and used recreational drugs frequently.

The samples were divided into two groups: A control group of men who were given the preventive pills and a group who were not.

The findings of the study reported 20 HIV infections in the group of men who were not given the pills. In the group of men who were given the pills, there were only 3 cases of HIV infections among men who were not consistent with their dosage. When the two groups were compared, it was discovered that PrEP reduced the risk and number of infections by a large percentage of 86%.

In similar studies, it has been observed that prophylaxis pills are very effective in situations where adherence is high. Thus, this medicine has been certified as a reputable HIV preventive measure.

💬Experience of Users

People who are constantly being exposed to HIV have found solace in pre-exposure prophylaxis pills. This preventive measure for HIV has been able to give its users a high sense of security and also reduced anxiety levels.

With the 90% protection against HIV which it offers, these drugs have been proven to be very effective in protecting its users from the virus.

Users often express complete satisfaction with these pills and there have been very few cases of severe side effects or health complications.

⌛How Long Does It Take for PrEP to Be Effective?

The rate at which the anti-HIV meds become effective varies. Some experts suggest that the pills reach their maximum protection level in the blood and vaginal tissues after twenty days of consistent use. The medication also reaches its maximum protection level in rectal tissue after seven days of consistent use [4].

Thus, for individuals who engage in anal intercourse, full protection is reached after seven days of use. For those engaging in vaginal intercourse, it could take up to twenty days of consistent use before maximum protection levels are reached.

However, every individual who is considering PrEP medications as a preventive measure for HIV should consult their health care provider in order to determine the rate at which effectiveness would be actualized.

📜Takeaway

Pre-exposure prophylaxis medicines have been proven to be very effective in providing protection from HIV for users. Studies have shown that the major condition for the efficacy of prophylaxis drugs is consistency and adherence. The less adherence there is, the less effective the strategy would be. As long as there are consistency and adherence, users of this pill can be guaranteed a 90% protection from infection.

However, the protection offered by the protective strategy does not extend to other STIs. As such, people who follow the procedure should also endeavor to use protection when having sexual intercourse.

In conclusion, people who are considering using this medication should consult a professional health care provider or practitioner in order to gain more knowledge and information on the efficacy and rate of effectiveness.

You can visit HIVPrEP for more standard information on pre-exposure prophylaxis medications and procedures.

📚References

  1. Efficacy of pre-exposure prophylaxis for HIV prevention. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Retrieved July 1, 2017
  2. A FAQ on PrEP. CDC. Prepfacts.org. Retrieved February 20, 2019
  3. FAQ about pre-exposure prophylaxis. Health.ny.gov. August 2018
  4. Basic questions and answers on pre-exposure prophylaxis.CDC.gov. Retrieved February 20, 2019
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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