PrEP: Expanding the Definition of Prevention
As an HIV test counselor with Berkeley Builds Capacity, a hepatitis counselor at the Berkeley Free Clinic (BFC), and a clinic educator with SHEP, I am constantly engaging with methods of prevention to the point where prevention and harm reduction overflow into other areas of my life. I think about these things in relation to my clients at Tang and BFC, my friends, and myself. This incessant over-analyzing of the people around me can be frustrating at times, especially since being client-centered and utilizing harm reduction means “meeting people where they’re at” and letting them come to their own decisions about what’s right for them at this stage in their life. Often this means having conversations where people tell me that they know they should be doing “insert-prevention-method” but don’t want to. Speaking for myself and learning from conversations with my fellow health care workers, this is one of the most challenging parts of this work (among many).
Listening to the speakers at the recent PrEP forum however has made me really excited for this next step in prevention of HIV. Even as a test counselor, I did not really know much about what PrEP was so for those of you who don’t know, to put it simply, Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) is medication that you can take that will help prevent the transmission of HIV. Right now, it’s mostly being offered to serodiscordant couples (one partner is HIV positive and the other is negative), but research is being done so that it can be more accessible to other folks. Of course there are issues that were brought up in the forum: can it cause drug resistance? Will it people engage in “high risk” behaviors if they have this “shield”? The data that was shown during the forum revealed otherwise, but I highly suggest you also look into it yourself if you’re interested (see links below).
I see PrEP as another really great option for folks to use to protect themselves. While lube, condoms, and regular testing are great methods of prevention and many people practice these, it’s still not enough, especially for certain communities. I am excited to see where these steps forward will take us with regards to HIV prevention, medication and treatment.
~ SHEPer, Jeni “Jugs”
Berkeley Builds Capacity: http://uhs.berkeley.edu/bbc/
Current studies being done on PrEP locally:
Information on PEP (Post-exposure Prophylaxis):
Filed under: HIV prevention, PrEP, uncategorized | 1 Comment
Tags: berkeley, HIV prevention, Pre-exposure prophylaxis, PrEP, prevention, sexual health, STI prevention, UC Berkeley