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Truvada-PrEP: The end of HIV and AIDS in the UK?

Truvada-PrEP: The end of HIV/AIDS?
Truvada-PrEP: The end of HIV/AIDS?

It seems Truvada the PrEP or preventative HIV/AIDS medication is living up to the promise and hype as a game-changer in the fight against HIV and AIDS.

HIV cases at Dean Street Clinic in London have fallen by 40% for a second year since 2015.

Information from the clinic, which is part of the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS trust as well as the largest HIV clinic in Europe indicates that the drop in HIV cases is concentrated among patients who have been able to obtain Truvada as well as followed medical advice.

Furthermore, Public Health England information shows that the total number of HIV diagnosis in London has fallen from more than 3000 in 2006 to 2603 in 2015.

In 2015 Dean Street Clinic was diagnosing about 60 to 70 people a month as HIV positive each month.

The number of newly diagnosed people however dropped dramatically last year and continues to do so. It is now about 15 to 20 people diagnosed every month.

Dean Street Clinic is working hard at its program of ensuring access to PrEP for high-risk gay men coupled with intensive testing and provision anti-retroviral therapy.

Doctors at the clinic are optimistic and are now daring to believe that it is possible to defeat HIV.

NHS England is now planning to make PrEP available under a three-year trial. This follows the Court of Appeal ruling in November 2016 that NHS England has the legal power to commission Truvada.

NHS England had originally refused to fund PrEP, however The National Aids Trust challenged this in the High Court and the case went on to the Court of Appeal.

So what is PrEP?

Pre-exposure prophylaxis (or PrEP) is when people at very high risk for HIV take HIV medicines daily to lower their chances of getting infected. PrEP can stop HIV from taking hold and spreading throughout your body. It is highly effective for preventing HIV if used as prescribed, but it is much less effective when not taken consistently.

Daily PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV from sex by more than 90%. Among people who inject drugs, it reduces the risk by more than 70%. Your risk of getting HIV from sex can be even lower if you combine PrEP with condoms and other prevention methods.

The medication used for PrEP is a pill called Truvada, which contains tenofovir and emtricitabine (which are drugs commonly used to treat HIV). If you take the pill daily, the presence of the medicine in your bloodstream can often stop HIV from taking hold and spreading in your body. If you do not take PrEP every day, there may not be enough medicine in your bloodstream to block the virus.

Is PrEP a vaccine?

No. PrEP does not work the same way as a vaccine. A vaccine teaches your body to fight off infection for several years, but with PrEP, you take the pill Truvada orally daily.

How safe is PrEP?

Although PrEP contains the same drugs that are prescribed to many people living with HIV and is safe, there are potential side effects to kidney function and some people have experience nausea, headaches or tirednes.

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