WHAT IS PrEP?
PrEP is a medicine taken by any HIV-negative persons who are at high risk of getting HIV. It could be taken due to the person’s lifestyle, behavior, or job. It helps to reduce the risk of HIV infection when exposed to the virus. PrEP is taken before exposure to HIV to prepare the body to resist the infection when the body comes in contact with it.
WHO SHOULD USE PrEP?
WHO and the Ministry of Health recommend PrEP for anyone who is at substantial risk of HIV. A person is said to be at substantial risk of HIV if he/she has engaged/engages in any of the following:
1. Shares injection materials (syringes and needles) with another person.
2. Has had a sexual partner in the last 3 months, who is HIV positive and has not been on effective HIV treatment.
3. Has or had had an STI (s) based STI screening, self-report, or by a lab test.
4. Female sex workers, Runs babes or Men who have sex with men, Transgenders, etc who:
a. Engage in vaginal or Anal sex without a condom with more than one partner.
b. Who can have a condom burst during sex or who can be involved in a rape where condoms will not be used.
c. Who usually engage in sex when ‘high’ (under the influence of substance, like alcohol, tramadol, cocaine, Igbo, etc).
BASIC FACTS ABOUT PrEP
- PrEP is taken orally and daily as long as the person is at substantial risk of contracting HIV
- PrEP is used alongside other HIV prevention methods like correct and consistent condom use
- PrEP is effective in reducing HIV infection when taken correctly
- PrEP is safe and has minimal side effects like any drug.
- PrEP use is stopped when the person is no longer at substantial risk of HIV or has become HIV positive.
- PrEP is available and affordable in Pharmacy and Chemist shops.
- Free PrEP is available in One-Stop Shops (OSS) across Nigeria.
ELIGIBILITY FOR PrEP USE
Before a person is placed on PrEP, a healthcare provider MUST assess the person for the following.
• The person is HIV seronegative (i.e not HIV positive).
• Has no suspicion of acute HIV infection.
• Is at substantial risk of HIV infection.
• Has no proteins in his/her urine (test).
• The person is willing to use PrEP as prescribed.
KEY FACTS ABOUT PrEP
• PrEP use is voluntary, not by force.
• WHO and Federal Ministry of Health recommend PrEP for FSWs, Runs Babes, MSM, PWID, Transgender, Sero-discordant negative partner.
• PrEP only reduces HIV infection, but not STIs and unplanned pregnancies.
• PrEP is used as an additional HIV prevention method (i.e use condoms also).
• PrEP is only effective when used correctly (adherence).
• PrEP users should not engage in risk compensation.
• PrEP is available and affordable for Pharmacy and chemists.
BAD PRACTICES WHILE USING PrEP
Some PrEP users engage in the following bad behaviors:
1. Risk compensation: This is the intentional engagement in risky behaviors like having unprotected sex, sharing injection materials, etc) because one is on PrEP.
2. Non-Adherence: This is not taking the PrEP drugs as prescribed. Some users take it when they want to or when they suspect that their sexual partner may be HIV positive, look sick, or has many other sexual partners.
3. Use of PrEP only PrEP is recommended to be used alongside other HIV prevention methods, but some PrEP users tend to use PrEP alone.
Note: PrEP can only reduce the risk of HIV infection when taken correctly. It does not protect against other STIs or unplanned pregnancies.