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    Sexual Health
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    A Beginner’s Guide to PrEP

    A Beginner’s Guide to PrEP

    Pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, is a highly effective method of HIV prevention that involves taking a daily pill. Despite its proven effectiveness, PrEP remains a relatively unknown concept to many people. This article aims to provide a comprehensive beginner's guide to PrEP, explaining what it is, how it works, who can benefit from it, and where to access it. Whether you are a member of the LGBTQ+ community, a person who injects drugs, or simply interested in learning more about PrEP, this guide will provide you with the information you need to make informed decisions about your sexual health. 

    PrEP tablet in the palm of a hand

    Google Web Story: A Beginner's Guide to PrEP

    UK Meds' Google Web Story below provides an explanation of PrEP Emtricitabine/Tenofovir (Truvada):

    What is PrEP?

    PrEP, which stands for pre-exposure prophylaxis, is a medication that is taken by those that are at risk of contracting an HIV infection. PrEP is a highly effective medication when it is used in combination with other antiretroviral drugs. It can help to prevent HIV infections and is currently one of the most effective medications for doing this. 

    What does HIV PrEP consist of?

    PrEP which is used for HIV can come in different forms. The most common form of PrEP is a combination of two medications, emtricitabine and tenofovir. These medications work together to prevent the HIV virus from replicating and spreading throughout the body, which significantly reduces the risk of HIV transmission.

    How effective is PrEP in preventing HIV?

    When taken consistently and correctly, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is highly effective at preventing HIV infections. According to research studies, taking PrEP daily can reduce the risk of HIV transmission through sexual activity by more than 99%. Similarly, when PrEP is used consistently by people who inject drugs, it can reduce the risk of acquiring HIV by up to 74%.

    How can the effectiveness of PrEP be improved?

    Whilst PrEP is a very effective medication for helping to prevent HIV infections, its effectiveness can be improved. Here are a few ways to ensure PrEP is working as well as it can for you:

    • Make sure you always take the medication every day.

    • Use other forms of protection in combination with PrEP such as condoms and regular HIV testing.

    • Speak to your doctor if you feel your medication could be doing more to help you. 

    What form does HIV PrEP come in?

    The most common form that HIV PrEP will come in is a pill. As mentioned, the PrEP medications that are used the most are a combination of emtricitabine and tenofovir. This pill is designed to be taken once daily.

    Is PrEP taken in combination with other antiretroviral drugs?

    Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV usually consists of a combination of antiretroviral drugs, emtricitabine and tenofovir. It is often used in combination with other HIV medications. There is no standard medication that is often used in combination with PrEP, it will usually come down to your own individual needs and your condition, and what your doctor thinks is best for you.

    How do you take PrEP?

    The most common PrEP regimen is a once-daily pill. To take PrEP safely and effectively you should ensure that you follow all instructions given to you by your healthcare provider, as well as the instructions that are provided to you in the packaging of your medication.

    What is daily dosing of PrEP?

    The recommended daily dosage of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is one tablet taken orally every day. The strength of the PrEP medication you can buy from UK Meds is 200/245mg. This means the medication is 200mg of emtricitabine and 245mg of tenofovir. 

    What is event-based dosing of PrEP?

    Event-based dosing of PrEP is an alternative dosing strategy for the medication that is also known as "on-demand PrEP" or "the 2+1+1 method". This dosing strategy involves taking PrEP only before and after a potential HIV exposure, rather than taking it daily as with the standard dosing regimen.

    The event-based dosing regimen involves taking two pills 2 to 24 hours before a potential HIV exposure, and then one pill 24 hours after the first dose. This is then followed by another pill 24 hours after the second dose. This provides coverage for a period of approximately 48 hours.

    How long should you wait before sexual activity when you start taking PrEP?

    For the standard daily PrEP regimen, it is recommended that individuals wait at least seven days (or one week) after starting PrEP before engaging in sexual activity without condoms. This allows enough time for the medication to reach effective levels in the body and provide protection against HIV. Prior to this time, you can engage in sexual activity provided you use suitable protection such as a condom.

    Does how often you take PrEP affect how well it works?

    Yes, how often you take PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) can affect how well it works. PrEP is typically taken daily, but there are also other dosing strategies such as "on-demand" or "event-based" dosing that can be effective if used correctly. Studies have shown that adherence to a daily PrEP regimen is highly effective in reducing the risk of HIV infection. If PrEP is not taken as directed then its effectiveness can be lowered.

    Can missing a dose of PrEP affect its effectiveness?

    Missing a dose of PrEP can affect its effectiveness in preventing HIV infection. If you miss a dose it is important to take the missed dose as soon as you remember. If you remember later in the day, take the missed dose as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next scheduled dose, do not take the missed dose and just take your next dose at the usual time.

    Does the type of sexual activity affect how much PrEP to take?

    The dosage and dosing strategy for PrEP may vary depending on the type of sexual activity you are engaging in. If you are having regular anal sex, daily PrEP is recommended for maximum protection against HIV infection. However, if you are having vaginal sex, daily PrEP may be effective, but event-based dosing (taking PrEP before and after sexual activity) or on-demand dosing (taking PrEP before and after a period of high-risk sexual activity) may also be effective.

    What does PrEP stand for?

    PrEP is in fact an anagram. The meaning of the word PrEP is Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis.

    What does Pre-Exposure mean?

    "Pre-exposure" in PrEP stands for the fact that the medication is taken before exposure to HIV. In other words, PrEP is taken by individuals who are HIV-negative but at high risk of contracting the virus, in order to reduce their risk of HIV infection before they are exposed to the virus.

    What does Prophylaxis mean?

    Prophylaxis refers to the prevention or protection of a disease or infection. For medication, prophylaxis involves the use of medications, vaccines, or other interventions to prevent the development or spread of a disease or infection.

    Who is PrEP suitable for?

    PrEP is a medication that is suitable for those who are at a higher risk of developing an HIV infection.

    Who is PrEP typically used by?

    PrEP is typically used by those who are at a higher risk of developing an HIV infection. The people most at risk include: 

    • Men who have sex with men

    • Transgender individuals

    • Individuals in serodiscordant relationships (where one partner is HIV-positive and the other is HIV-negative)

    • Individuals with a history of injection drug use and sharing of injection equipment

    • Sex workers

    • Individuals with a history of sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

    Can women use PrEP?

    Yes, women can use PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) as a method of HIV prevention. In fact, PrEP has been shown to be highly effective in reducing the risk of HIV acquisition in women when taken consistently. It is a common misconception that HIV only affects men when in fact it will affect anyone regardless of gender. 

    Why would a woman use PrEP?

    Women can and should use PrEP as a method of HIV prevention. Women who may benefit from PrEP include those who:

    • Have a partner who is living with HIV

    • Have multiple sexual partners, especially if they do not consistently use condoms

    • Have a history of sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

    • Inject drugs and share needles or other injection equipment

    Do you need PrEP if your HIV-positive partner has an undetectable viral load?

    The risk of HIV transmission is greatly reduced when a person living with HIV has an undetectable viral load. However, it is important to note that an undetectable viral load only reduces the risk of HIV transmission during sexual activity, and does not protect against other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Therefore, for individuals who have a partner living with HIV with an undetectable viral load, the decision to use PrEP as a prevention method should be made on a case-by-case basis.

    Is PrEP safe for intravenous drug users?

    PrEP can be safe and effective for intravenous drug users when used as part of a comprehensive HIV prevention strategy that includes regular HIV testing, condom use, and other risk reduction strategies.

    Is PrEP safe for pregnant women?

    The safety of PrEP use during pregnancy is an important consideration, as it can affect both the mother and the developing foetus. Currently, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that pregnant women at high risk of HIV should be offered PrEP as part of a comprehensive HIV prevention package. 

    An overview of HIV

    HIV, which stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus, is a virus that attacks the immune system, which is responsible for fighting off infections and diseases. When someone is infected with HIV, the virus attacks and weakens the immune system, making it more difficult for the body to fight off other infections and diseases. As the immune system becomes progressively weaker, the person is at greater risk of developing opportunistic infections and cancers that can be life-threatening.

    Should you avoid taking PrEP with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications?

    In general, there are no known interactions between non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) and Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP). However, it is always important to consult with a healthcare provider or pharmacist before taking any new medications.

    Is it safe to take PrEP with ibuprofen?

    Yes, it is generally safe to take PrEP and ibuprofen together. There are no known interactions between these two medications.

    Is it safe to take PrEP with naproxen?

    In general, there are no known interactions between naproxen and PrEP.

    Is it safe to take PrEP with diclofenac?

    There are no known drug interactions between PrEP and diclofenac so in general, it is safe to take both medications together.

    What is Truvada?

    Simply put, Truvada is a brand name for PrEP. Truvada consists of a combination of emtricitabine and tenofovir. 

    Is Truvada available in the UK?

    Yes, you can purchase a generic version of Truvada online from UK Meds. There is no difference between generic and branded PrEP as they both contain the same active ingredients.

    PrEP FAQs

    Does PrEP treat HIV?

    PrEP is a medication that is primarily used to help prevent HIV infections. Whilst PrEP is not used to treat HIV infections, there are a number of different medications that can be used to help manage the virus. 

    Is PrEP medically endorsed?

    Yes, pre-exposure prophylaxis is medically endorsed by many health organisations around the world as an effective tool for HIV prevention. Clinical studies have shown that when taken consistently and correctly, PrEP can reduce the risk of HIV infection by up to 99%.

    Does PrEP provide protection from other sexually transmitted infections?

    PrEP medication does not provide protection from other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). PrEP is specifically designed to prevent HIV infection and does not have any impact on other STIs, such as chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis, or herpes.

    Should you still use condoms when taking PrEP?

    PrEP medication is highly effective at preventing HIV infection, but it does not provide 100% protection against the virus. Therefore, using condoms alongside your PrEP medication can provide additional protection against HIV infection, as well as other sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

    Is PrEP the same as PEP?

    No, PrEP and PEP are not the same thing. PrEP stands for pre-exposure prophylaxis, whereas PEP stands for post-exposure prophylaxis. PrEP is usually taken regularly by those who are at a higher risk of contracting HIV. PEP on the other hand is taken after someone has potentially been exposed to an HIV infection after a single high-risk event such as having unprotected sex with someone who could be HIV positive, sharing needles with someone who could be HIV positive, or sexual assault. PEP must be started within 72 hours of exposure and involves taking a combination of three antiretroviral medications for a period of 28 days.

    Is it more convenient to buy PrEP online?

    Yes, buying your PrEP medication online from UK Meds is much more convenient than buying it elsewhere. Avoid awkward conversations and order your medication from the comfort of your own home by shopping online with UK Meds. We also offer a subscription service for PrEP that allows you to have your medication delivered to you automatically every month.

    Where can I buy PrEP online in the UK?

    If you are looking to purchase PrEP medication online in the UK then stay where you are and shop online with UK Meds. 

    How does the process to order PrEP work at UK Meds?

    The process for purchasing PrEP from UK Meds is quick and easy. Simply select your medication, the amount of tablets you need and the frequency of deliveries and click quick checkout. You will then need to complete a consultation form that ensures that the medication is right for you. Upon approval, you will be able to complete your purchase. 

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