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    Sexual Health
    1234 · 20 min read

    A-Z Guide to PrEP

    PrEP, which stands for pre-exposure prophylaxis, is a very important medication that can help to prevent and treat HIV infections. The medication itself is a combination of two different medications called emtricitabine and tenofovir. In this article, we will go through from A-Z with letters relating to PrEP. Learning more about PrEP treatment and HIV testing can help to combat the spread of the virus, and can also make a difference for people getting the treatment they need sooner rather than later.

    Video Guide: What is PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis)?

    A - AIDS

    PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) is a treatment that is predominantly used to help prevent HIV infections from spreading from person to person. It can also be used by an individual who already has HIV in conjunction with other treatments to help keep the infection under control. PrEP can also help to prevent AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) from developing. 

    B - Breaking the stigma

    No matter how educated people become about HIV and PrEP, there is still a stigma surrounding it. Breaking the stigma around HIV and PrEP is crucial in combating the spread of the virus. HIV has long been associated with negative stereotypes and discrimination. This has created a barrier to testing and treatment that needs to be removed.

    C - Cause of Infections

    HIV is primarily spread through sexual contact, sharing of needles or other injection equipment, or by a mother-to-child transmission during pregnancy, childbirth, or breastfeeding. HIV is spread through exposure to infected bodily fluids. HIV can spread from person to person and does not discriminate between gender, age or sexual orientation.

    D - Deciding to Test

    Getting tested for HIV is important for several reasons. Early detection and treatment of the virus can help people with HIV to live longer, healthier lives. Regular testing also helps to detect the virus at its earliest stage, when it is most treatable. The decision to decide to test can be difficult and emotional, however, it is necessary. 

    E - Emtricitabine

    Emtricitabine is an antiviral medication that is used to help treat and prevent HIV infections. It works by blocking the reverse transcriptase enzyme, which is necessary for the replication of HIV. Emtricitabine is usually taken in combination with other antiviral medications. Emtricitabine helps suppress HIV as well as helping the immune system function properly.

    F - Free HIV tests

    Getting yourself tested is incredibly important for not only your own health but also for preventing the spread of the virus. To get a free or low-cost testing kit you can visit the Terrence Higgins Trust for more information.

    G - Getting your results

    Getting an HIV test result can be an emotional and stressful experience. It is important to always keep in mind that there are many effective treatments and support systems available if you are positive. A healthcare provider will likely perform additional tests to confirm the diagnosis and determine the stage of the infection.

    H - HIV

    HIV is a virus that is passed on via bodily fluids. It attacks the immune system and can lead to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, which is also known as AIDS. PrEP is a treatment that is used to help prevent and treat HIV infections. HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus.

    I - Infections

    Infections can pass through bodily fluids including blood, semen, vaginal secretions, and breast milk. It is important to practice safe sex and to avoid sharing needles or other injection equipment to reduce the risk of transmission. HIV is a highly infectious condition that passes via bodily fluids. 

    J - Judgement

    Unfortunately, some individuals who use PrEP to prevent HIV infection may face stigma and judgement from others. This can be due to misconceptions about the medication and its use, as well as the stigma people feel towards HIV. Having HIV is nothing to be ashamed of and judgement for having HIV or using PrEP medication is unacceptable. 

    K - Keeping your condition under control

    HIV can be managed effectively with antiretroviral therapy (ART). ART works by suppressing the virus and slowing the progression of the disease, allowing people living with HIV to live long and healthy lives. When someone is managing their condition correctly the viral load in their bloodstream can become undetectable. 

    L - Lifestyle Changes

    There are several lifestyle changes that you can make in order to avoid a potential HIV infection if you are at high risk. These include practising safe sex, stopping the injection of drugs/sharing needles, and getting regularly tested. By making the necessary lifestyle changes you will be able to help prevent the spread of the virus, and are giving yourself the best chance to get your viral load to undetectable levels. 

    M - Most at-risk groups

    The groups most at risk of acquiring HIV include men who have sex with men, individuals who inject drugs, people in heterosexual relationships with an infected partner, and sex workers. These people will find the most benefit from using PrEP. Those people that are most at risk will need to ensure they take the necessary precautions to help prevent themselves from contracting the virus. 

    N - National HIV Testing Week

    National HIV Testing Week is an event held annually that is aimed at promoting the importance of regular HIV testing, as well as encouraging people to get tested.

    O - Opportunistic Infections

    Opportunistic infections are a type of infection that occurs in individuals with weakened immune systems, such as those with HIV. The infections take advantage of the body's decreased ability to fight off infections that a person with a healthy immune system would typically be able to resist. Common opportunistic infections other than HIV include pneumonia and tuberculosis.

    P - Prevention

    PrEP is a medication that can prevent HIV transmission. PrEP is taken daily by individuals who are at high risk of contracting the virus and works by blocking the virus from taking hold and establishing an infection in the body. When you use PrEP continuously you will be very well protected against HIV infections so that you can live a normal, enjoyable life without having to worry.

    Q - Quick Results

    The time it takes for PrEP to start working depends on the individual and the specific medication being used. For most people, it takes about seven days of daily dosing for PrEP to reach maximum protection against HIV. During this time you will need to be cautious about your actions, and even after. It is important to note that PrEP is not 100% effective and should be used alongside other preventative measures including using condoms and regularly testing for HIV.

    R - Risk Reduction

    Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) works by blocking the virus from taking hold and establishing an infection in the body. PrEP contains two antiretroviral drugs that can prevent HIV infections at an effectiveness of 92%. You can also reduce the risk posed by HIV by regularly testing and by using other preventative measures including condoms. 

    S - Staying Safe

    PrEP is a very effective way to stay safe from HIV infections. Using PrEP medication is especially important for people who are at high risk of contracting HIV. HIV can be a dangerous condition when it is not treated promptly. It affects how the immune system works which can make people more susceptible to serious health conditions. 

    T - Tenofovir

    Tenofovir is a key component of several antiretroviral therapy (ART) treatment plans and is also used as a single ingredient in PrEP, alongside emtricitabine, to reduce the risk of HIV transmission. Tenofovir works by blocking the reverse transcriptase enzyme that is a vital component in how HIV develops in the body.

    U - Undetectable

    Undetectable is a term used to describe the viral load of a person living with HIV that has achieved and maintained an undetectable viral load via treatment. An undetectable viral load means that the amount of virus in the blood is so low that it cannot be detected by standard blood tests and is unlikely to be passed on to others.

    V - Viral Load

    Viral load refers to the amount of HIV that is detectable in an infected person’s blood. Knowing this measurement is vital as it can help monitor the progression of HIV, and the progression of the treatment that a person is having. The viral load of HIV is measured in the number of copies of HIV RNA per millilitre of blood. 

    W - Why testing is important

    HIV testing is incredibly important, especially for those that are at the highest risk of infection. Early detection allows people to start their treatment regime quicker which can help them to get their viral load down to undetectable levels. Testing is a crucial step in the process of getting viral load down to undetectable levels when you test as it notifies people of the infection. 

    X - e(X)pected Results

    When you are using PrEP you can expect to be very well protected against HIV infections. When using PrEP alongside other HIV medications it can help to reduce your viral load to undetectable levels. It will not do this on its own, however. The results people can expect from PrEP usage will vary from person to person, however, it is well known for being very effective at preventing HIV infections.

    Y - Your Medication, Your Way

    You can purchase the PrEP medication that you need from UK Meds. Using our service is great for remaining discreet about what could be perceived as an embarrassing topic. Get your medication delivered in discreet packaging so only you know what is inside.

    Z - Zero HIV infections

    This refers to a global goal of there being zero new HIV infections in the world. This would require a major push for education and access to treatments such as PrEP. This is a massive goal, but one that is shared internationally. 

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