Sex and Health: prEP Helps Prevent HIV

Licensed by Creative Commons Truvada is a new treatment for those without HIV to prevent contracting the virus in the future.

Sydney Lucero

Contributing Writer

What if you could lower your chances of getting HIV by over 90 percent before even considering using a condom? 

Many students on campus do not realize that this option exists, a pill called Truvada, otherwise known as PrEP or pre-exposure prophylaxis.

Taken once a day consistently, Truvada is a highly effective means of preventing HIV. 

“Isn’t it that shot or whatever that is supposed to help prevent sex diseases?” Montana Gates asked 

It seems that many students on campus either haven’t heard of the medication or only have a vague idea of what it is for. 

According to NPR, prEP has not been as widely adopted as health officials expected. 

This lack of hype over Truvada could be partly due to the fact that the pill does not work on those who already have HIV and does not protect against other STDs. 

Truvada is also highly controversial and even slightly stigmatized in the LGBTQIA+ community for the misconceptions of the medication’s use, such as people thinking that taking the pill is a preventative measure that eliminates the need for condoms or STD screenings.

Another negative would be the potential side effects which according to Planned Parenthood include lactic acidosis, or a buildup of lactic acid in the bloodstream, liver problems, kidney issues including increased risk of kidney failure and bone density loss. 

Perhaps, setting the record straight on what Truvada does and does not prevent and what function it could actually serve would increase its appeal, especially to college-age students.

While abstinence or religiously using condoms are viable options often rehearsed on a loop to young adults, according to only 62 percent of college students consistently use condoms.  

Likewise, a whopping 15 percent of students report never actually using condoms at all. 

“Being in a six-year relationship, condoms suck for a few reasons in my opinion..” Montana explains “They suck because sometimes they feel weird and they mess with natural lubrication for women…sometimes they make it harder to get going.”

Condoms are not the sexiest part of hooking up, and while many use them regardless, it is important to note that on college campuses where hookup culture is rampant it can be tricky to fully know the status of a sexual partner or what their standards on safe sex have been with previous partners. Enter prEP.

While Truvada does not prevent other STDs, many of which are painful, unpleasant, but fortunately very treatable… it does prevent HIV which is harder and much more costly to treat. 

Although couples who are completely monogamous are not likely candidates for Truvada, people who have sex with multiple partners, are in less committed relationships, or are at a higher risk of contracting HIV could consider taking Truvada as an additional safety net.  

Although one should always use safe sex practices such as condoms and get tested regularly to avoid contracting any and all STDs, Truvada puts us one step closer to “Getting to Zero,” or eliminating the contraction of any new HIV infections.

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