Does taking PrEP Prevent HIV?
April 27, 2022
Metro Atlanta has one of the nation’s highest rates of HIV/AIDS cases – up to eight times the national average. Surprisingly, thousands of at-risk people here are ignoring a medicine that can protect them.
Pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, is a medication that can help people who are HIV negative to prevent and reduce the risk of getting infected by HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Studies have shown the one-pill-per-day medication is highly effective for preventing HIV.
This is particularly important for men and women who do not have HIV, but whose sexual partners do or may be at risk of developing it. CDC data suggests that nearly 85% of HIV infections among women result from sexual contact with an infected man.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV from sex by about 99% when taken as prescribed. It has also been found to reduce the risk of HIV infection among people who inject drugs.
So, why are people reluctant about using PrEP? Some are concerned about its side effects, which can include diarrhea, nausea, headache, fatigue, and stomach pain. The CDC insists that PrEP is safe and that these side effects usually go away over time.
Two PrEP options
There are two medications approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use as PrEP: Truvada and Descovy.
- Truvada is for all people at risk for HIV.
- Descovy is for people at risk through sex, except for people assigned female at birth who are at risk of getting HIV from vaginal sex.
Both Truvada and Descovy are designed for use by people who do not have HIV. Different treatments are called for if you already have the virus.
HIV: A huge problem
About 1.2 million Americans have HIV and 13% of them do not realize it. Black and Hispanic Americans are disproportionately affected by HIV. For example, while they represent about 13% of the general population, Black Americans make up more than 40% of HIV infections. Hispanics represent about 18.5% of the population but nearly 25% of HIV cases.
Progress has been made in reducing HIV infections, but the problem is related to behavior. For example, the risk of getting infected is 26 times higher for sex workers and 25 times higher among gay men and other men who have sex with men.
Talk to Grady PrEP Experts
To find out if PrEP is right for you, you speak with your doctor. If you do not have a doctor, Grady Health System can help. If you want to learn more about PrEP, give us a call at (404) 616-PREP or visit us online at gradyhealth.org/get-prep-hiv-prevention-pill/