HIV/AIDS In The UK
There are currently over 100,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in the UK. Compared to other nations this number is low, however the rate of new infections is fairly high, averaging over 4,000 per year.
This relatively high rate of infection is a serious cause of concern for the UK and this rate remains the same or increases, there will be a greater strain on the country’s resources. In such a developed country a decrease in this rate is imperative, for the benefit of both the economy and public health.
The Wonder Drug
One major breakthrough and solution to reducing this rate of new infections is the development of HIV Pre-exposure Prophylaxis, otherwise referred to as PrEP. PrEP refers to pills that sexually active individuals can take continuously to prevent them from acquiring HIV. The pills have been shown to be highly effective in preventing the transmission of HIV to individuals that do not have the sexually transmitted virus.
What Is PrEP?
As mentioned above, PrEP refers to highly effective anti-HIV medication that can be used by people without HIV to prevent them from contracting the disease. PrEP is a combination of two major drugs, Emtricitabine and Tenofovir. These are the same drugs that are provided as part of the antiretroviral treatment for people living with HIV.
How Does It Work?
PrEP works by preventing HIV from reaching an individual’s cells and replicating after exposure to the virus. When the virus is unable to replicate, it will eventually die off, and the individual will be completely HIV free. It is important to take the PrEP medication as regularly as possible, preferably once a day, in order to ensure that there are enough levels of the drug in their system to block HIV entry and replication every time there is exposure to the virus.
Taking PrEP Medication
It is highly recommended that you take PrEP once every single day. This will ensure that the levels of the drug will be high enough to prevent contraction of HIV at any given point in time. Therefore, you should continually use the drug even when levels of sexual activity have decreased.
Availability In The UK
The most popular PrEP drug used across the world is known as the original brand name PrEP medication. This drug has a 99% success rate when it comes to stopping HIV transmission to uninfected individuals. The generic form of this has been proved to be equally as effective as the branded drug, as well as being significantly more affordable, costing less than £1 per day.
Currently the drug is only available on the NHS to a very limited number of people and is unlikely to become available to the general public for some time yet. Luckily, it is completely legal to import medicines from abroad for your own personal use including this popular PrEP medication. At such a reasonable cost its popularity is on the increase, and therefore there is hope that PrEP will help to bring new HIV infection rates to an all time low.