On December 5, 2015, LoveYourself, the premiere non-profit organization that promotes self-worth and HIV awareness in the Philippines, introduced PrEP in their recent Volunteer Convention held in a hotel in Manila.
What is it?
Pre Exposure Prophylaxis [or commonly known as PrEP] is the use of anti-HIV medication in tablet form to keep HIV-negative people from becoming infected.
Is it effective?
Its effectivity varies depending on the person's consumption of the drug. The practice is to build its effectivity in a week before engaging in any sexual activity. After which, the person must keep taking the medicine to continue his/her protection. It is suggested that for women, they take PrEP for about 3 weeks prior. Not taking the drug daily limits its effectiveness and taking multiple doses in a day would not result in an increase in effectivity.
ARV/T, Tenofovir, Truvada? What?
ARV simply means Anti-Retroviral [ARV] drugs. These are drugs to limit the viral load of an HIV positive individual. These are medicines to improve the lives of HIV+ people by reducing infectiousness. They are called anti-retroviral therapy [ART] when taken by HIV+'s. These are not cures.
Tenofovir and Truvada are ART prophylaxis drugs that when taken aborts potential infection in HIV- individuals. These are then called PrEP.
What's the process of taking them?
Clinics/hospitals who carry PrEP test an individual if they are indeed free of HIV. Once they test negative, they are prescribed a 3 months' worth of drugs. They take it on that day and build the protection for at least a week and then they can engage in sexual activity.
LoveYourself Founders Chris Lagman [leftmost] and Vinn Pagtakhan [rightmost] with the WHO representatives [middle]
Do we have to use condoms while on PrEP?
A clinical study was done to a small sample group and found that when taken seven days a week, the efficacy rate of these drugs are up to 99%. Though that sounds most effective, it would be wise to take condoms when engaging in sexual activity. PrEP only protects a person from HIV, not from other STIs
How did PrEP come about?
Condoms and abstinence of sexual activity were the only known defenses against contracting HIV and other STIs. But back in 2003, a research was proposed to combat the ever-going battle with HIV/AIDS: The PrEP project. And at 2012, FDA [Food and Drug Association] approved Truvada for PrEP in adults with WHO recommending it for MSM [males who have sex with males] and Transgenders.
How to get/buy/acquire Tenofovir/Truvada?
The drugs are currently unavailable in the Philippines in the past. Most Filipinos journey outside of the country to Bangkok [closest place available], have themselves tested and get the recommended dose. WHO and the Department of Health has chosen LoveYourself to first disseminate the drugs in the Philippines.
Chris Lagman, co-founder of LoveYourself states that the organization is currently in the planning phase on how to distribute the drugs to the public. Market and operations research, focus groups and other testing parameters are being implemented to make this drug available to everyone who needs it.
Any target dates for its release?
3rd Quarter of 2016
For further questions and clarifications, you can reach LoveYourself here:http://www.facebook.com/loveyourself.ph/
Disclaimer: This article is meant only for awareness and is not a substitute for an advise and direction of a doctor, clinical consultant or any other professional that deals with medical issues, cures and diseases. Call your doctor or any qualified centers for more questions and other inquiries.
Images from: Loveyourself.ph, Concepcionized photography