The Unintended Consequences of Taking PrEP

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In 2018, it seems that the majority of sexually active gay men use the HIV-prevention drug, PrEP (aka Truvada), and although the results are promising, the gay community’s obsession with the drug can have dangerous consequences.

Due to the preventative properties of PrEP (which stands for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis), more and more gay men have been engaging in unprotected sex, with the assumption that the drug will keep them from catching an STD. Unfortunately, what many of these men forget, is that PrEP only protects them from HIV, and not any other STDs. The over-confidence that the gay community has in the drug has caused gay men to become more careless when engaging in casual sex.

Earlier this year, HIV Equal reported that a recent study found that the risk of STD contraction in gay men increases by 72% once they begin taking PrEP. In a sample of 195 gay men, 30% of them reported contracting an STD within a year of taking PrEP. In addition, 12% of the men claimed to have contracted 2 STDs within a year of taking the drug, while 9% reported contracting 3 or more STDs within a year of taking PrEP. Altogether, 51% of the men used in the study contracted an STD after taking PrEP for a year, and that number is alarming.

Obviously, when it comes to HIV prevention, PrEP works extremely well, as it has been found to be 99% effective in preventing the risk of transmission. But with that said, it is imperative for gay men to remember that HIV is not the only STD that the community is prone to contracting. And, although HIV is the most severe STD, other STDs can become just as serious, especially if a person contracts the same STD more than once. After so many instances of using medication to treat the infection, the STD becomes resistant to those medications, which means the person is then stuck with the infection for life.

When the facts are considered, it is extremely important for doctors to remind gay patients that PrEP isn’t the answer to wanting unprotected sex. Hopefully, the future will bring other medications that can be as effective as PrEP in preventing the transmission of less severe STIs as well.

Practice safe sex guys.

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