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HIV Prevention in a Pill?

By on August 19, 2013

There is a new prevention weapon in the war on HIV/AIDS!

It’s called PrEP or Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis and it’s a pill that one takes while HIV negative to prevent HIV transmission.

In what has an often been a dark arena of HIV prevention over the last 30 years, PrEP has shown to be effective in reducing the rate of transmission against this deadly virus. It is not a cure. Individuals who are HIV negative will take the HIV medication Truvada on a daily basis.  PrEP is currently recommended for men who have sex with men, as well as heterosexual men and women who are sexually active and participating in high risk sexual behavior.  Consider the effectiveness is still tied to using latex condoms and consistently taking the pill every day. It is a highly recommended daily regimen in order to be effective.

When used appropriately PrEP has been shown to reduce HIV transmission by 90%. 

This rate can only be achieved if the individual is taking the medication as prescribed by the physician.  And keep in mind that because the consumer is HIV negative- no insurance carrier is currently covering Truvada, so the estimated $1,200 cost is a major factor.  While PrEP will reduce the risk of contracting the virus that causes HIV it will not reduce the risk of contracting of other sexually transmitted diseases.   PrEP is considered safe and effective for reducing the risk of HIV transmission sexually.

While Truvada (Gilead Sciences) is currently the only medication in the PrEP arsenal there are other medications that are being considered as well.

For anyone that feels PrEP is for them they should consult their personal physician.  If you do not have a personal physician and/or medical insurance you can contact Gilead Sciences.  Gilead is the maker of Truvada and currently has a program that will assist you in obtaining the medication.

As noted earlier there are guidelines that the required before being considered as a recipient of PrEP. 

  • Recipient must be tested as HIV negative prior to beginning the medication.  Showing no signs of the HIV antibody in his/her system.  This is very important because if the recipient is in fact HIV positive and begins taking the PrEP medication he/she can build a resistance to the drug.  Once they were diagnosed they would not be eligible to take that medication going forward.
  • The recipient must take an HIV test every 90 days.

If you or someone you know believe that Truvada may be appropriate, please consult a physician and discuss the side effects, making risk behavior changes, and of course your budget.


Ronald Wadley is the Controller at a non-profit medical member based association.   He holds a degree in Master Human Resource Management and a Master of Business Administration. 

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