In the two previous articles, we introduced PrEP as a strategy to protect individuals from getting infected with HIV. Pre-exposure prophylaxis refers to taking a combination of HIV medicines prior to a possible exposure (e.g. before sex, injecting recreational drugs) to protect an uninfected person from the virus. When PrEP first came out a few years ago, I thought it could be effective in helping control the HIV epidemic, but I had concerns.
One of my major concerns was whether people would regularly take PrEP. From decades of experience with treating HIV-infected individuals, getting people to reliably take their medicine as prescribed has been a major challenge. I felt that if people infected with HIV often didn’t take their medicines (and these medicines were life-saving for them), why should we expect people who are NOT infected with HIV to take medicines? In all studies, when PrEP fails (a person gets infected while using it), it’s because people aren’t taking it properly.
For people who don’t like taking pills, but want the benefits of PrEP, pharmaceutical scientists and medical researchers may soon come to the rescue.
Very soon, we may have our first long-acting HIV medicines. When I say long acting, I’m not talking about a special cough and cold capsules you take that can last you all day or night. There are combination HIV medicines showing success in clinical studies to treat HIV that are administered once every two months! Imagine that!
One of the drugs in the most