Advice about Starting Oral PrEP Now
There is currently not enough evidence to demonstrate when and how people who are at high risk for HIV should start PrEP. We know more studies will be coming out that may help with this decision. We recommend that you make an informed decision in consultation with a medical provider.
Despite the recent study results, there are many unknowns to how PrEP works best: What is the optimal dose? How often should you take it? What happens to your treatment options if you do get HIV? What exactly are the long term side effects of the medication?
However, if you are considering starting PrEP now, please take this advice to heart. Talk to your doctor about it. If you’re unwilling to do that, know that you need to get tested for HIV infection before you start and on a very frequent basis afterwards. While there isn’t an official guideline for how often you should test because the research isn’t in yet, please tell your HIV testing counselor about what you're doing. They can help you decide how often you should get tested.
- PrEP is not 100% effective in preventing HIV infection, not even condoms are 100% effective.
- The current PrEP trials are using medications at levels that are not considered adequate to treat HIV infection.
- If someone thinks they're negative but are actually positive when they start PrEP, they'll be taking a drug at a dosage that's insufficient to treat HIV disease.
- If they continue taking PrEP, there is a chance of developing drug resistance.
- If drug resistance did develop, there is a chance that they could infect someone with a drug resistant strain of HIV.
- By testing routinely, you will know if you become HIV infected and can switch medications.
- If someone has a significant possible exposure to HIV, they should stop taking PrEP and start taking PEP.
One of our agency's values is to "work within a harm-reduction and client-centered model of health promotion." To uphold that tradition, we offer you this advice, as well as a reminder to proceed with caution. Take care of yourself.
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