Pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, is the daily use of anti-HIV medication by HIV-negative people to prevent infection before an exposure. While this latest prevention tool has been met with caution and some skepticism, recent studies have demonstrated its efficacy if taken regularly and have eased fears that HIV-negative people might abandon other prevention strategies such as condoms.
2. HIV can be detected within weeks
How long after a potential HIV exposure should you wait before getting tested? While technologies vary in every jurisdiction, the vast majority of HIV infections can be detected much earlier than in the past. Why is this important to know? Early detection can lead to better health outcomes and near-normal lifespans. It also prevents further transmission, since a large proportion of new HIV infections may come from individuals who have been newly infected.
3. Late testing can be lethal
Since the introduction of effective antiretroviral therapy in the mid-1990s, people with HIV in high-income countries can now live longer and healthier lives. However, the death rate among HIV-positive people is still higher than among HIV-negative people, and most HIV-related deaths are a result of late detection. According to a study in England, 80% of people with HIV who died had only been diagnosed after developing serious immune deficiency.
4. Undetectable viral load can be an effective HIV prevention strategy
An undetectable viral load can significantly reduce the transmission of HIV among heterosexual couples and men who have sex with men. Over the past several years, studies and expert consensus statements have confirmed this, offering an additional strategy for people living with HIV to reduce the risk of transmission.
5. Repeated exposures increase the risk of an activity
One of the most common questions faced by HIV educators is the level of risk for a specific sexual activity. Not satisfied with a broad categorization such as ‘low-risk’ or ‘high-risk,’ many want to ‘put a number on it’ so they can know the statistical likelihood of transmission for each act. What these statistics fail to capture, however, is that risk accumulates as the number of exposures increases. This means that for a low-risk activity, the risk of infection can increase the more often it happens.
There are actually 10 new things about HIV today, but I'll give it a rest for now and will catch up with you guys soon enough. So, stay tune for more HIV Today's news!