PrEP and HIV Strains
PrEP has been found to protect against HIV-1 and is effective in patients who are HIV-negative before they start treatment. PrEP can reduce the risk of getting HIV-1 but is not effective against the HIV-2 strain. PrEP should be taken every day and be accompanied by safer sex practices.
PrEP stands for “pre-exposure prophylaxis.” It basically refers to the use of anti-HIV medicines that can help HIV-negative people remain negative. PrEP protection is typically effective within three weeks after you begin treatment.
Keep in mind that PrEP will not work in patients who have already been exposed to HIV-1. Also, if you miss a dose of the drug, your chances of getting the HIV-1 infection will increase, even if you are on PrEP.
How to Use PrEP
In order to use the PrEP treatment effectively, you need to take a pill that consists of a combination of two antiretroviral drugs — emtricitabine and tenofovir. This combination pill is available on the market under the brand names Truvada or Descovy and is approved by the FDA. PrEP treatment works by blocking the enzyme known as HIV reverse transcriptase and preventing HIV from multiplying.
It is also important to get tested regularly even if you are using PrEP. You will have to be tested for HIV-1 before you start treatment and every three months thereafter while you are on PrEP. Also, since PrEP does not offer protection against sexually transmitted infections, it is important to also be regularly tested for those because STIs can make you more vulnerable to HIV-1.