More than 7,500 Oklahomans are HIV-positive, and only 59 percent of those infected are virally suppressed, meaning they are receiving treatment that suppresses transmission of the virus to their sexual partners. If you are having unprotected sex, you are at risk for HIV infection. However, there are highly effective medications now available to prevent HIV infection from unprotected sex and injection drug use.
Although there is no cure for HIV, transmission can be reduced by pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP medications. It is important to understand that anyone who is sexually active, regardless of sexual orientation, is at risk for HIV infection. If you are having sex with someone who is HIV positive, PrEP preventative treatments can help protect you from infection and also prevent HIV infection from injection drug use.
What Is PrEP?
Pre-exposure prophylaxis, commonly known as PrEP, reduces your risk of HIV infection in the form of a daily pill. When used as prescribed, PrEP medication is a proven, effective method of preventing HIV.
If you are exposed to HIV and are using PrEP medication appropriately, the drugs prevent you from getting HIV. The anti-HIV drugs in PrEP stop the virus from replicating in your body. In fact, PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV from sex by more than 90 percent and reduces the risk of HIV among people who inject drugs by more than 70 percent.
Currently, there are two medications available for daily use as PrEP. Both are combinations of two anti-HIV drugs in a single pill. You must be HIV-negative to receive a prescription for PrEP medications. The most common PrEP medication, Truvada, is recommended for all adults and adolescents at risk for HIV through sex or injection drug use. The second medication, Descovy, is recommended for adults and adolescents at risk for HIV through sex but does not protect people at risk through vaginal sex. You must be HIV-negative to receive a prescription for PrEP medications.
Do You Need PrEP?
If you are considering PrEP to prevent HIV infection and are HIV-negative, the following factors should be considered:
- You are sexually active.
- You have sex without a condom.
- You are in a relationship with a partner who is HIV-positive.
- You have multiple partners, a partner with multiple partners or a partner whose HIV status is unknown.
- You are a sexually active adult male who prefers male partners.
- You have had sex with people who inject drugs, or if you inject drugs yourself.
- You have had a sexually transmitted infection (STI).
Although it is not a cure for HIV, PrEP treatment does protect individuals who are HIV negative from contracting the virus from an HIV positive sexual partner. PrEP does not prevent pregnancy or other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), so using protection during sex such as condoms is still necessary to ensure your overall sexual health.
After HIV Exposure: PEP
If you are exposed to HIV and are not currently taking a PrEP medication, you can seek a PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis), an emergency medication that prevents HIV after a possible exposure. Although PEP is proven highly effective at preventing HIV infection after exposure, it must be started within 72 hours after exposure to HIV and is not a substitute for a regular HIV prevention treatment such as PrEP.
Get Started! PrEP in OklahomaHow to access/contact???? If you are at risk for HIV infection, consult with a medical professional about a prescription for PrEP to minimize your risk as soon as possible.