So as of early May PrEP has been licensed in Australia by our Therapeutics Goods Administration (TGA). You might be asking why is this something that even three months later we’re still talking about? Or more you may be asking what even is PrEP? Well, everyone PrEP or pre-exposure prophylaxis is a relatively new medication that when taken regularly can prevent human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) transmission occurring even when exposed to the virus through contact with someone that is positive. Testing has been undertaken in both heterosexual and homosexual populations over five or so years and the rates at which the medication has prevented transmission have been very high. Many countries had licensed this nifty little drug before us, including the USA, but what matters is that it is now licensed here and therefore far more accessible on Australian shores.
The name of the medication is Truvada and it has a daily dosage that strict adherence is necessary for effectiveness. Due to daily dosage people that are considered lower risk may be thinking this is not the form of prevention for them but for those that are higher risk Truvada offers a great safety net. This may include but not limited to serodiscordant partners, when partner’s HIV status are different. For years’ antiretroviral drugs have been used to combat HIV, highly effective antiretroviral therapy (HAART) being used to keep HIV from decreasing immune function so much so people with HIV and on treatment have the same life expectancy as people that are HIV negative. It is the use of two types of antiretrovirals that have created this little preventative tenofovir disoproxal fumarate and emtricitabine or to make things a little easier TDF and FTC.
PrEP has offered us another line of defence and another weapon in ending HIV transmission in Australia but it is important to remember that this only prevents HIV transmission and should still be paired with regular condom use to prevent contraction of numerous other STI’s and regular testing. If PrEP is something you may be considering in knowing your status is the most important thing, ensure that you are negative first as for obvious reason PrEP will not cure HIV just prevent it if it is not already contracted.