how prep works

How does PrEP actually work?

Taking PrEP every day for many is an essential part of their sexual health practice.  But many have asked how does PrEP actually work?

Just a note, this blog post speaks to oral PrEP which consists of a person taking on eof two pills daily: emtricitabine and tenofovir disoproxil fumarate FTC/TDF (Truvada), emtricitabine and tenofovir alafenamide fumarate FTC/TAF (Descovy).  As you know, before you qualify for PrEP you must test negative for HIV.  If you have not done so, get your no-cost PrEP Test Collection Kit here. 

Prevents HIV from replicating in the body

PrEP is a pill that prevents HIV from multiplying in the body after exposure. It works by blocking the enzyme that is needed to make new HIV viral particles . Unlike a vaccine, it doesn’t need to be administered once and can be used as often as needed. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is effective in preventing HIV infection when taken regularly. However, it can be ineffective if it is not taken consistently.

There are two different antiretroviral medications that are approved to prevent HIV in pill form.  CDC recommends that healthcare professionals prescribe the best option for each patient based on their risk of HIV infection. The most commonly prescribed medication for PrEP is tenofovir disoproxil fumarate and emtricitabine, known as Truvada. This combination is 99% effective against HIV transmission from sex.

Acts as a catalyst

When taken correctly, PrEP can prevent HIV infection in high-risk people up to 99%. This drug works by setting up fortified walls around healthy cells that keep HIV from invading them. This process occurs within seven to 20 days of the first dose of PrEP. This drug also works with the immune system to produce antibodies that fight against HIV. However, there are some side effects to this medication, including dizziness, nausea, and headache. It is important to discuss these issues with your doctor before you start taking PrEP.

The tenofovir disoproxil fumarate-emtricitabine (TDF-FTC) pill is the only prescription HIV prevention drug approved by the FDA for all people at risk of infection.  The drug blocks an enzyme that HIV uses to make copies of itself. TDF-FTC is available as a generic drug, and the price is significantly lower than that of the brand-name version. Unfortunately, many programs that serve people at risk for HIV do not have access to the cheaper medication due to markups from pharmacy benefit managers and coverage restrictions imposed by insurers.

Helps the body produce antibodies

If you are at high risk of getting HIV, taking PrEP on a daily basis may help you prevent infection. The medication works by blocking an enzyme HIV needs to make copies of itself in the body. This prevents the virus from spreading throughout the body and infecting new cells. 

Helps the body fight infections

The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a lifelong infection that can cause AIDS. It can be prevented by using safer sex practices and taking medication called pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). PrEP, which is a combination of two drugs, has been shown to protect against HIV infection in people who are at high risk for getting the virus. The drug works by blocking important pathways that HIV needs to infect the body.

Two drugs have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use as PrEP: FTC/TDF (Truvada) and TDF/Emtricitabine (Descovy). They are both effective and safe. They work by blocking the enzymes that the HIV virus uses to make copies of itself in the body.  These medications are best used in conjunction with condoms to increase protection against STIs and HIV.

In large studies, the medication has been shown to be 99% effective at preventing HIV infection in people who take it consistently. In addition, the medication can reduce the amount of HIV in a person’s blood to undetectable levels. This can lower a person’s chance of infecting their partners.

Unlike vaccines, which train the immune system to fight the disease, PrEP medication must be taken every day. Typically, people who use PrEP start taking it seven days before they have planned sex. The medication is taken orally.

We hope this helps in understanding what PrEP is, how it works and how for many is an important part of their sexual health practice.

We are excited to let you know when the At-Home PrEP Test Kit is available.

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We are excited to let you know when the At-Home PrEP Test Kit is available.

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