Three years ago today, on July 16, 2012, the FDA approved a small drug with huge potential, Truvada, for PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) as a tool to combat the rising incidence of new HIV cases. PrEP, taken daily and responsibly, has the power to reduce the likelihood of contracting HIV. HIV-Negative individuals with perceived higher-than-average risk of being exposed to HIV have the option of being prescribed this treatment as an option of defense against potential HIV exposure, but with any new “big thing” comes successes and barriers.
One major component of the efficacy of PrEP depends on adherence, taking the medication consistently, to ensure the ability to operate at full capacity. Individuals who adhere to taking the medication daily have significantly greater levels of protection than those who do not. PrEP also should not be taken as a justification to engage in condom-less sex. PrEP is recommended with continued use of condoms and only protects against HIV therefore leaving potential risk of exposure to additional STIs. Even though the histories of PrEP Efficacy Trials show no serious adverse effects, there is still a wealth of information to be gathered identifying any potential risk associated with long-term adherence. PrEP is a tool of prevention, but cannot be mistaken as THE tool of prevention.
If properly administered, PrEP yields the opportunity for us, as a community, to protect our future self, future family, and even our future partner. Using PrEP as a method of reducing HIV may help alleviate the barriers many gay men face with family planning and even commitment. In lieu of Marriage Equality, PrEP can be viewed as a tool which will allow us to eliminate stigma and level the grounds of dating once again. Gay men no longer have to be afraid to love, trust, or be viewed as “un-dateable”, based on HIV status. PrEP equips individuals with the ability to preserve their sexy and maintain optimal sexual health for their potential partner/husband. The decisions we make today, impact our tomorrow. Are you PrEP’d to Protect your Future?