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How PrEP works, a pill for HIV prevention



In cities such as London, San Francisco and New York, fewer and fewer new HIV infections are recorded, and experts link most of this achievement with a pill: pre-exposure prophylaxis, better known as PrEP.

If you take it daily DKP It is possible to reduce by more than 90% the chance of being infected with a virus that causes AIDS, sexually, or by 70% using needles that are not sterilized or used by several people, according to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention English language).

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The American pharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences began selling it in 2012. under the brand Truvada,

And three years later, the World Health Organization (WHO) began recommending its use for HIV prevention among groups at high risk of HIV infection, such as homosexuals, bisexual men and their female partners, sex workers, or sex workers. vapors of someone infected by this virus.

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But while its results are already visible in developed countries, the high price of this treatment keeps it away from the most vulnerable areas.

virusImage copyrightGET IMAGES
Image captionThe tablet contains emtricitabine and tenofovir, which prevent the reproduction of the virus.

For example, Chile is one of 10 countries in the world where new cases of HIV-infected appear. they increased by more than 50% from 2010 to 2017, according to the Joint United Nations Program on HIV / AIDS (UNAIDS).

And there, according to the press in this country, the cost of PrEP ranges from 575 to 645 US dollars per month.

However, as of the first quarter of 2019, the government will distribute it for free as part of an ambitious national AIDS plan, since the number of new infections doubled between 2010 and 2017, according to the Chilean Institute of Public Health (ISP).

But how does this work?

Side effects

PrEP contains emtricitabine and tenofovirtwo drugs that are also used in antiretroviral drugs, because they reduce the amount of virus in the blood and prevent its multiplication.

The CDC explains that it does not work as a vaccine because it does not generate antibodies, and its daily consumption is necessary so that emtricitabine and tenofovir are present in the blood at the time of infection and prevent the establishment of HIV in the body. webpage

However, PrEP it's not for everyoneBefore you start taking it, you must exclude that the patient is already infected with a virus. It is also necessary to check the good condition of the kidneys and liver, as the tablets can cause disorders in these organs.

Tie aids hands

Image copyright

GET IMAGES

Image captionChile will start giving out pills for free.

Experts recommend limiting its use to those who are at clear risk of acquiring HIV, since treatment may include side effects such as nausea, indigestion or headaches and, in more extreme cases, the accumulation of lactic acid in the blood.

In addition, those who suffer from hepatitis B should be especially careful because if they start using Truvada and then stop treatment, it is very likely that hepatitis will become worse.

Not 100% infallible.

Take PrEP does not mean that you can do with other methods of preventionThe tablet does not protect against other sexually transmitted diseases, such as gonorrhea, syphilis or genital herpes, which is incurable.

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None is 100% error free. Although they are rare, there are at least five cases where people they contracted HIV even though they took Truvada and two more cases in which it cannot be completely ruled out that patients acquired the virus before starting to take pills, according to the Aidsmap portal for AIDS.

There are a few exceptions among the thousands of people who use PrEP. But even in this case, treatment should be accompanied by other preventive methods, such as condoms and periodic HIV tests.

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