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HIV PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) is a type of preventive treatment for HIV. It is taken to reduce your chances of getting HIV through sexual intercourse or injection drug use. If administered correctly, PrEP can reduce your chance of contracting HIV by 99%.
Unlike HIV PEP, which is taken after possible HIV exposure, HIV PrEP is taken before exposure.
After the first consultation with your doctor, you will be advised to take HIV PrEP regularly or during a specific time period. It is recommended to take PrEP pills everyday. There are typically two types of PrEP pills – Truvada and Descovy.
Some individuals may be advised to take 2 pills 2 to 24 hours prior to sexual intercourse, 1 pill after the first 24 hours, and 1 pill for the next 2 days after the last occurrence of sexual intercourse. This is known as the 2-1-1 method.
HIV PrEP must be combined with measures such as using a condom for full efficacy against HIV infection, as the condom may break or slip during sexual intercourse. Consult your doctor every 3 months for a check-up or any follow-up examinations.
HIV PrEP requires the patient to take two anti-viral medications, tenofovir and emtricitabine, daily for full efficacy of the treatment. Oral medications for HIV PrEP that are offered in Singapore are Truvada and Descovy.
You may consider undergoing HIV PrEP if:
You are sexually active with a HIV-positive partner.
You are not in a monogamous relationship.
You are sexually active and engage in unprotected anal sex.
You have been diagnosed with an STD in the recent months.
In other words, if you are at a high risk of contracting the HIV infection, consider taking PrEP.
It is best to consult a trusted doctor to develop a treatment plan to prevent HIV infection during sexual intercourse through HIV PrEP.
You are advised to undergo HIV testing prior to being administered HIV PrEP. This is to ensure:
You may also be asked to undergo blood tests to check your kidney and liver function and to test for other STDs such as syphilis and chlamydia.
HIV PrEP is considered to be a safe treatment method for the prevention of HIV infection during sexual intercourse. However, as HIV PrEP involves oral medication, some patients may experience side effects such as nausea, headaches and stomach pain. These symptoms typically disappear after some time.
If your pain or symptoms persist or become worse, seek medical attention immediately from your doctor.