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Stay safe with PrEP : Facts about PrEP medication, HIV prevention options

Stay safe with PrEP : Facts about PrEP medication, HIV prevention options

What is PrEP

PrEP is stand for pre-exposure prophylaxis. It is a drug regimen prescribed for people who have high risk of getting HIV infection. PrEP can reduce a chance of getting HIV infection by more than
90% if taking it correctly.

Why take PrEP

For those at very high risk for HIV, PrEP can significantly reduce your risk of HIV infection if taken daily. Daily PrEP use can lower the risk of getting HIV from sex by more than 90%. You can combine additional strategies with PrEP to reduce your risk even better.

PrEP in Bangkok

Thailand has one of the best health security in the world and also has the best public health system in Southeast Asia. The public health system here makes it easy for anyone to access medical care and get treatment, if necessary. This applies to not only Thai citizens, but also any foreigner in general, which make Thailand a decent destination for some foreigner to access good healthcare. Since Thailand is a popular tourist destination for nightlife activities, the extent of Thailand’s healthcare has expanded to the prevention of HIV and STDs as well. Many hospitals and clinics are offering PrEP and STD treatment services for everyone. If you’re in Bangkok and would like to be prepared for your plans tonight, you can get PrEP medication at any medical service provider near your location. But remember to give them a call to ask for necessary information first, as each place may require different preparations before prescribing you the drugs.

How well does PrEP work?

If taken correctly, the effectiveness of PrEP can reduce the risk of getting HIV by 99% from sex. PrEP has proven to be the best choice for HIV prevention along with the use of a condom during sex. If you take it correctly as the doctor advised, then you rest assure that you’re safe from HIV.

PrEP and PEP

PrEP and PEP are the two guardians that prevent HIV from getting into your body, with slight differences between each of them. PrEP is a regimen of HIV prevention drug that you can take to prevent HIV infection in-advance. It is suitable for anyone that can anticipate their future risks and would like to make preparations for those encounters. But PEP is a similar regimen of drugs that must take after the potential HIV exposure by any means, for example, sex without using a condom, accidentally get into contact with infected blood on any part of the body, or accidentally get stuck with a used needle. This PEP regimen should be taken within 72 hours after the potential HIV exposure to take effect. If you take it in time, then you can rest assure that you won’t be infected with HIV.

Should I consider taking PrEP

PrEP is for people without HIV who are at very high risk for getting it from sex or injection drug use. The federal guidelines recommend that PrEP be considered for people who are HIV-negative and in an ongoing sexual relationship with an HIV-positive partner.

This recommendation also includes anyone who

  • isn’t in a mutually monogamous* relationship with a partner who recently tested HIV-negative, and
  • is a . . .
    • gay or bisexual man who has had anal sex without using a condom or been diagnosed with an STD in the past 6 months, or
    • heterosexual man or woman who does not regularly use condoms during sex with partners of unknown HIV status who are at substantial risk of HIV infection (for example, people who inject drugs or women who have bisexual male partners).

PrEP is also recommended for people who have injected drugs in the past 6 months and have shared needles or works or been in drug treatment in the past 6 months.

Is PrEP safe

Some side effects like nausea, dizziness, fatigue, stomach cramps can happen but usually subside in 1 week. No serious side effects have been observed, and these side effects aren’t life threatening. In people who are HIV-negative and have taken PrEP for up to 5 years, no significant health effects have been reported.

How can I start PrEP

If you wish to go on PrEP, you can contact any local healthcare provider and ask them if they have PrEP service available. If they do, then blood testing will be required before prescribing PrEP medication, so you will have to visit that place in person. This is because PrEP was made for only HIV-negative people, and the tests are required to make sure that a person can actually take the drugs without giving harmful effects to their body. But if that healthcare provider doesn’t have PrEP service available, they will advise you to where it’s available

How to take PrEP correctly

In order to get the best efficacy out of PrEP you have to take it daily for at least 7 days before a possible exposure. You should create a routine of taking PrEP regularly so you won’t forget or skip taking it. And when you want to stop taking PrEP, stop it 4 weeks after the last possible exposure. And come to do a blood test for HIV to make sure you’re HIV negative.

If I take PrEP, should I stop using a condom when I have sex?

Even though PrEP treatment is effective enough to prevent anyone from getting HIV, that is, unfortunately, the only power it has. For anything else, e.g., gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis, herpes, genital warts will naturally transmit to you if you don’t use a condom during sex. If you don’t mind an extra medical bill for treatment, then a condom won’t be absolutely necessary, but the condom is still recommended nonetheless.

How long do I need to take PrEP?

A bottle of PrEP pill usually consists of thirty pills inside of it. If you decided to take it daily, then it will last for exactly one month. However, there’re several means to take this HIV prevention pill other than daily dosage. You can plan your PrEP intake with your doctor to figure out the best solution for taking the drugs.

How long do I need to take PrEP before it is effective?

PrEP will be fully effective after seven days of daily medication. This applies to every person in general, regardless of gender or age. Another regimen is by taking PrEP in a set of 2+1+1 (aka. Prep on demand), this regimen is applied to only men that have sex with men, and it will go into effect right away after taking on the first day. A doctor’s consultation is recommended before taking PrEP in any regimen.

Does taking a long-term PrEP lead to harmful health effects?

Taking long-term PrEP drugs may affect your liver or kidney health. This is why a kidney function and liver function test are required every 3-6 months after PrEP. If any of the numbers in the test went up, the doctor might advise you to stop taking PrEP for some time, or may change the type of drug for you. In rare cases, there is a possibility of a loss of bone density due to PrEP. If this is the case, the doctor will advise you to cease taking PrEP for your bone density to recover.

Can you start PrEP after you have been exposed to HIV?

PrEP can work as an HIV prevention drug only. This PrEP HIV prevention drug doesn’t have enough dosage to treat HIV itself. Taking PrEP while being infected with HIV can be very dangerous because the virus can develop its drug-resistant, making it more difficult to suppress, and the patient will have to change their type of drugs to the one with stronger effect and more side effects. This is one of many reasons why an HIV test is required before prescribing PrEP.

PrEP cost

The PrEP cost may vary for each healthcare provider, ranging from 2000-5000 THB depending on each place. A price for the drug itself may not cost much, but there’re other tests and medical services that should be taken into consideration as well.