pre-exposure prophylaxis

did you know that there’s a pill that prevents HIV infection?

my mom used to work on the infectious diseases infirmary at a big hospital, and the horror stories coming out of that department would leave me speechless, heartbrokean and infuriated in turns — especially people finding out they’re infected after years of being married to someone who had never disclosed their HIV-positive status to them. so my mind was blown when i read about PrEP (or pre-exposure prophylaxis) on a listserve email a couple of weeks ago. though not legal everywhere yet, it’s super effective — and such a game changer, for so many people.

while i’m amazed that this thing exists, i’m also dismayed that i had never even heard of it before, and neither had most of the friends i asked about. so to help spread the information, i’m copying Faith’s email below.

read about it and spread the word!

“Did you know there is a medication approved by the FDA and some Euro countries that prevents HIV infection? There is! And it’s incredibly effective. The concept is called pre-exposure prophylaxis or PrEP. Right now, one drug is approved, but a lot of other medications are being tested for approval.

I’ve been working in the field of HIV research for 28 years. I’ve seen a lot of things. I’ve watched a lot of people, including a lot of friends, die. I know that every one of these friends would be throwing this medication off the rooftops if it meant that one person was prevented from getting HIV. There is no controversy. This is a proven medical intervention to a public health crisis. Go learn, then inform your friends and family.

Gay men, especially white gay men, are using it with enormous successes. Feel free to look up PrEP effectiveness for more information. Unfortunately, the message that this medication is available hasn’t really gotten out to gay men of color or women at risk for HIV. Why?

Well, stigma for one. We don’t want anyone knowing what we do behind closed doors for fear of discrimination. We might also have some shame about our activities, even if they’re no one else’s business. Also, no one really wants to admit that they might be exposed to HIV during a relationship. So PrEP is for “other people” but not “me.” The fact is, if you are having sex with someone and you don’t know (really KNOW, not just assume) their HIV status, HIV infection is a possibility. And PrEP is as effective, if not more effective, than condoms! Don’t you think that’s something you should know about, even if you never take it? I do. That’s why I have been planning this since I signed up for the listserve more than 5 years ago. I think you should know ALL of the tools available to you in your toolbox.

Pass it on.”


2 comments to “pre-exposure prophylaxis”

  • Lynda Carrington says:

    I wonder how long this is effective for? Does one have to take it before each exposure or does one dose last a month, a year, a lifetime. What is the cost involved and is it a prescription drug. I don’t feel a need for it at the moment but many seniors are contracting HIV because they do not have the access to information that the younger generation does. Many seniors don’t realize the risk they take having unprotected sex. They are too old to have children so they forget about other risks.

  • ana says:

    Hi Lynda!

    PrEP is a pill that you take everyday and is effective against HIV infection for as long as you keep taking it. Note that people can still get other STDs while on PrEP… so condoms are always a good idea.

    Every country has different regulations for PrEP, but it seems to be approved in some parts of Canada. Your national guidelines can be found here: http://www.cfenet.ubc.ca/hiv-pre-exposure-prophylaxis-prep

    Have a look, and spread the word — I hope it’s helpful! :)

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