HIV prevention has come a long way in recent years. Now, there are medications you can take for ongoing protection from HIV, even if you have sexual contact with an HIV positive individual. These medications work well for men and women, and they're highly effective. However, they are not necessarily the right choice for everyone. Here's a closer look at who can take HIV prevention pills.
Those who are HIV negative
Taking HIV prevention pills if you're already HIV positive will not treat your infection. If you are positive, there are other treatments you can take to keep symptoms at bay and slow the rate of viral reproduction. For this reason, doctors will have you take an HIV test before they prescribe the HIV pill. You may also need to take HIV tests periodically while you're on the HIV pills, just to make sure you remain clear of infection. (The pills are very effective, but on rare occasions, breakthrough infections can occur.) This approach ensures that if you do develop HIV, there's no delay in getting you the treatment you need.
Those with healthy liver and kidney function
The HIV pill can affect liver and kidney function, but if your livers and kidneys are functioning well when you begin taking the pills, you shouldn't have to worry. So don't be surprised if your doctor requires a blood test prior to prescribing HIV prevention pills. This blood test is to assess for the presence of certain kidney and liver enzymes that are good indicators of how well these organs are functioning. If your organs are functioning well, then you should be a good candidate for the medication.
Those who are not pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant
It's not yet known whether the HIV pill is safe for pregnant women to take, or whether it is safe for women to become pregnant when taking the HIV pill. As such, your doctor will recommend against taking this medication if you're trying to become pregnant, or if you are currently pregnant. After you give birth, if you are still in need of HIV prevention, you can re-visit your doctor and discuss beginning to take the pill at that point.
The HIV prevention pill is a wonderful tool that works well for many patients. If you're HIV negative, have healthy kidney and liver function, and are not pregnant, then talk to your doctor about prescribing it. For more information on HIV prevention, contact a health clinic such as CAN Community Health.