In a recent episode of BBC.com’s Newsday, a Kenyan sex worker described how she has benefited from Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP). PrEP are a set of drugs (only one, with brand name Truvuda is well-known/approved so far) which reduce the risk of HIV infection in people who are at high risk of getting the infection like sex workers. It is estimated that the risk reduction could be high as 92%.
The commonly used PrEP, Truvuda is a mixture of two medicines, tenofovir and emtricitabine. These medicines are used in combination with other drugs to treat HIV. The World Health Organization recommends this combination of these drugs for treating all newly infected HIV patients. This preferred mode of treatment is what is termed Highly Active Anti-Retroviral Therapy (HAART). Since the inception of HAART in the late 1990s, there has been tremendous decrease in mortality resulting from HIV infection. In addition, HAART reduces the viral load in infected patients including some tissues. However, HAART has its own risks. For instance, one study in Annals of Medicine reported the incidence of antiretrovirals failing to repress viral load. In addition, this study indicated the increased frequencies of adverse side effects from these drugs, especially in women. PrEP, which are prepared from these drugs, are likely to result in such side effects. There are growing evidence in literature on the side effects of PrEP, resulting in the reluctance of people at risk of getting HIV infection like men who have sex with men from taking them.
Clearly, the surest way to avoid these side effects is to abstain from activities that expose a person to being infected by HIV. People who are involved in activities or professionals such as sex workers at high risk of HIV infection should find other ways to protect themselves if they feel uncomfortable taking PrEPs or are worried about the probable side effects.
Other ways to protect oneself against contracting the infection include using condoms in sexual intercourse. Additionally, an ultimate preventive method would be to abstain from sexual intercourse. In most instances, the latter suggestion is not realizable, especially in sex workers like the lady who was interviewed in the BBC.com’s podcast. She indicated how she lives on the income generated from having sex with other people. In her case, she is made to resort to taking PrEP as most of her ‘customers’ do not want to use condoms in their sexual activities. This situation puts such persons at very high risks of either contracting the virus, in the instance PrEP fails. Also, they face the likely side effects of taking PrEPs.
At MedcirclesGh, our aim is to see everyone in good, quality health. This is one surest way to improve the socioeconomic growth of nations such as Ghana. We strongly encourage people to engage in activities or professions that do not put them at high risk of getting infections and diseases. We care about the health of all.