Pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, is a medication regimen that has the potential to be very effective at preventing HIV transmission. By preventing the virus from proliferating inside the body, this medication works.
Pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, is a medication that lowers your risk of contracting HIV through sex or drug injection. PrEP is an incredibly powerful HIV prevention tool when used as directed.
Do different varieties of PrEP exist?
PrEP can be administered intravenously or orally.
Truvada and Descovy are two pills that have been approved for use as PrEP.
For those at risk from sex or drug injection, there is Truvada
Descovy is for sex-risky individuals. Descovy is not recommended for people who are born with a gender preference and who may contract HIV through receptive vaginal sex.
The only injection recognized for use as PrEP is apretude. Apretude is for those who weigh at least 77 pounds and are sexually vulnerable (35 kg).
What side effects does PrEP have is a common question among those who are thinking about using this medication.
Sadly, despite having a high risk of HIV transmission, many people are reluctant to use PrEP due to concerns about its side effects.
In a recent medical study, 42% of participants said that the main reason they didn’t take PrEP was that they didn’t want to suffer any side effects. It is crucial to note that the vast majority of people who take PrEP don’t have any side effects at all.
Only a very small percentage of participants in medical studies—2% in some—reported experiencing negative effects from the medication. Of course, every person’s body will respond to medication differently. Because some people are more sensitive to medication than others, some people may experience different side effects from prEP. Additionally, your body’s response to any medication regimen can be impacted by elements like current health issues, allergies, or other medications.
What consequences does PrEP have, and should you be worried about them?
Start-Up Period Effects
The majority of PrEP’s side effects typically appear during the “start-up” phase when you first begin using the drug. This frequently occurs in the first few weeks and is typically tolerable.
The side effects that patients encounter most frequently are as follows:
- reduced appetite
- variations in weight
- discomfort or pain in the abdomen
Because PrEP raises the levels of liver enzymes to fight HIV, the majority of these side effects occur. This may worsen constipation, increase gas, and cause gastrointestinal problems.
You can discuss your worries with your doctor if you experience any PrEP side effects. Typically, over-the-counter medicines can be used to treat conditions like headaches, motion sickness, or upset stomach.
Depending on the medication you take, there may be different side effects from PrEP. The two medications that are currently available for PrEP are Descovy and Truvada. The side effects of Truvada and Descovy are somewhat dissimilar because each drug has a distinct formula.
- Truvada Side Effects
The FDA first approved HIV PrEP medication was Truvada. Emtricitabine and tenofovir are combined in this medication, which is approved for use in both cisgender and transgender males and females, to block the enzymes that HIV produces to reproduce.
Some patients who took Truvada for PrEP experienced additional side effects on top of the usual ones during the initial phase of treatment. Truvada’s side effects that were most frequently reported were headaches (7%), stomach pain (4%), and weight loss (3%).
The impact of Truvada on kidney health and function is a notable side effect. The kidneys’ ability to filter substances can be diminished by truvada. While the patient is taking PrEP, the majority of doctors will perform blood and urine tests to check on the patient’s kidney health and function. When taken by patients with pre-existing conditions, Truvada may raise their risk of developing kidney issues or failing altogether.
Additionally, Truvada can lower bone density, making the body more brittle and susceptible to fractures. Medical research, however, demonstrates that this loss of bone density is reversible and typically quite mild.
- Consequences of Descovy
Although it is being tested for all genders, Descovy is only currently approved for cisgender males and transgender females. Antiretroviral agents are used in this medication’s unique drug formulation to lower HIV viral loads and prevent the virus from proliferating.
Only 1% of participants in a recent drug trial discontinued taking Descovy as a result of negative side effects. The most typical side effects of Descovy, such as diarrhea, nausea, headaches, fatigue, and stomach problems, were also experienced by a slightly smaller percentage of patients.
Descovy can reduce a person’s kidneys’ ability to filter waste products, particularly if they already have health problems. Additionally, an increase in blood lactate and liver issues are two of the more severe side effects of Descovy.
- What Adverse Reactions to Watch Out For
Before using PrEP, it’s crucial to discuss with your doctor any worries or underlying health conditions (like hepatitis or kidney issues). In order for your doctor to carefully monitor your health, you should also adhere to the testing schedule that they advise.
Contact your doctor as soon as possible if you experience any unexpected changes in your health while taking PrEP. While taking PrEP, there are a few warning signs to watch out for as they may indicate potentially serious health issues. This comprises:
- the skin or eyes turning yellow
- appetite loss that lasts a long time
- urine or stool color changes
- extensive stomach pain
- a rapid or unusual heartbeat
- breathing difficulty
- achy or tender bones
In the end, the advantages of PrEP far outweigh any possible drawbacks, including the risk of HIV transmission to you or your partners. The side effects are generally quite mild and controllable for the majority of people. One should take all precautions to prevent a disease that has no cure.
However, you should always discuss any worries or changes in your health with your doctor as soon as possible.