Get the 411 on PrEP

Oliver Bacon, MD, MPH
Oliver Bacon, MD, MPH

Due to all the publicity around PrEP, there are many questions and circulating myths about what PrEP can do: will it increase a patient’s propensity for risky behavior? What are the side effects? Is it safe? Does using PrEP mean people will stop using condoms? Is it affordable? To take a look at what PrEP is, how it works and how it fits into a larger, comprehensive HIV prevention strategy, join us for an upcoming webinar: PrEP—A Game-Changing Approach to HIV Prevention. I will join David Evans from Project Inform to provide an overview of PrEP, who might benefit from it, what the current research says and what may be potential side effects to a treatment that includes PrEP.

Webinar recording and presentation slides now available! Click ‘Read More!’

PrEP, or Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, is a promising new way to prevent HIV infection: a pill (brand name Truvada), containing two antiretroviral medications (emtricitabine and tenofovir), taken daily. In clinical trials, when taken as directed, PrEP reduced the risk of HIV infection by as much as 92 percent, compared to the standard-of-care for HIV prevention at the time (counseling and condoms). This is good news: Since the number of new HIV infections in the U.S. has remained stuck at about 50,000/year for years—despite existing HIV prevention methods—people need additional ways to reduce their risk of infection.

If you use condoms correctly every time you have anal or vaginal intercourse, they provide very effective protection from HIV. But what if…

  • The condom breaks?
  • You do a little “dipping” (the insertive partner doesn’t put on the condom until he is ready to ejaculate)?
  • You usually use condoms, except when you’ve been drinking, or using drugs?
  • You find yourself having trouble talking about using condoms with your partner and so you just don’t bring it up?

Similarly, if your only sex partner is HIV-positive but with an undetectable viral load on antiretroviral therapy, you have a very low risk, statistically, of becoming infected. But what if…

  • You’re not sure his/her viral load is really undetectable right now?
  • You have other partners whose HIV status you don’t know?

PrEP is gaining momentum nationally because it’s a method—one that may be very effective under certain conditions—for people to take control over their own risk of HIV infection. Remember: you take PrEP every day, regardless of whether you are planning to have sex or not (and who can honestly say that sex is always a planned event?), and you don’t have to rely on what someone else says about his/her HIV status, testing history, or sexual habits. PrEP has made it into New York State’s HIV prevention plan, which aims to end AIDS in New York by 2020. And just last month, San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener penned a blog post on The Huffington Post about coming out of the “PrEP closet,” and disclosing his use of PrEP to remain HIV negative.

Join us on November 5th to learn more about PrEP and check out these resources!

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

San Francisco AIDS Foundation

Project Inform


Missed the webinar? You can watch the recording and view the slides here!


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