Just Say “No” to HIV: Strategies for Preventing the Infection (part 2 of 3)
I frequently travel to Africa and Latin America. In tropical climates, I am at risk of getting infected by the malaria parasite spread by mosquitoes. Malaria is a deadly disease, so to protect myself, I take medicines used as prophylaxis or prevention.
Taking the prophylaxis keeps medicine in my blood to kill any malaria parasites I get exposed to. This is the same idea behind Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis for HIV disease, abbreviated PrEP. While condoms can protect against HIV infection, condoms aren’t always comfortable or pleasurable.
In many parts of the world, female sex workers are not able to require male partners to use condoms, so they are at risk for HIV infection. Providing a way for women to protect themselves was one of the driving forces behind the development of PrEP. By taking the medicine daily, the virus is destroyed if the person is exposed to it so they don’t get infected.
Currently, the form of PrEP available in the US, Europe, Africa is a combination of two medicines in one pill called Truvada. It contains the medicines tenofovir and emtricitabine. Truvada has been found effective in protecting all types of people no matter what kind of sex they practice.
Truvada protects serodiscordant couples; partners where one individual is HIV+ and the other is HIV-. The negative partner takes PrEP. The infected partner should