PrEP – What you need is a correct information – Pt.2

Life is too short to have no care for you!

Our journey into the world of PrEP continues with the help of Pietro, an expert at the Milan Checkpoint PrEP counter. We had left ourselves in Pt.1 with many questions and answers and now let’s continue from here.

What is its correct use for a prophylaxis that works?

For PrEP to work, correct adherence is required, i.e.: taking suggested doses according to the established schedule, otherwise, the concentration of the drug in your mucous membranes is not sufficient to give effective protection from HIV. Depending on personal needs and lifestyles, it is possible to take PrEP every day, or only in view of sexual intercourse, with different dosages. Over time, it is possible to change the intake timing, or even stop the cure for a period of time, if there is no need to use it, and return to its use  when lifestyle or new medical situations require it again.

Is PrEP good also against all other sexually transmitted infections (STIs)?

I’m afraid, but the answer here is no. Unfortunately all other STIs cannot be prevented by using PrEP, so it is advisable that each one of us regularly tests for STis, ideally every three months. By doing so, any infections found can be timely treated. People using PrEP – followed by doctors – have these tests more often, and like this infections are treated promptly and their partners can be warn earlier and be treated too if needed. This potentially leads to a decrease in the circulation of these infections within a specific community.

Using PrEP and being regularly followed also means taking care of potentially very dangerous infections: hepatitis and papilloma virus (HPV), for example.

For hepatitis A and B, for example, there is a vaccine, while for hepatitis C we still do not have one, but therapies that completely eliminate the infection are available, and even in this case it is important to start them as soon as possible.

For HPV instead, the vaccine has recently been made available free of charge also for males. This important vaccination is not widespread because there is still little talk about HPV in the male audience. The spread of this infection is instead very high. This infection could also lead to cellular abnormalities, which – in the long run – may result into cancer, therefore, specific screening every three months is very important.

What are its real side effects?

Let’s imagine we take this medication every day for a time of 10 years, then, researched have shown that in very low cases this drug can have a moderate toxicity for the kidneys and bones. But these side effects have only been found in people which already had similar illnesses, and in any case, side effects disappeared by stopping the use of PrEP. This is why it is very important to be followed by a doctor while using PrEP:  regular checks may avoid any issues.

Some other most common side effects are mild gastro-intestinal problems in the first days of using PrEP, but amongst the people we follow, only 30-40% reported such effects, therefore it really depends from one person to another.

How long can a person take PrEP spend before having to take a break from taking it?

As already mentioned, the active ingredients used for PrEP have been used for many years as part of daily HIV therapy, and in general, bodies well tollerate them. For this reason, PrEP protocols do not currently foresee scheduled interruptions, but it is still a possibility that can be evaluated together with an expert doctor.


Thanks Pietro, we hope that this little guide will be useful to many of our readers to try to eradicate HIV.

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