There are drugs available and new innovations like an implant, as well as tips that go a long way to reducing the risk of spreading HIV.
Drugs available for high-risk HIV negative people
This is even the case with HIV- people who take pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). ‘Prophylaxis’ means ‘to prevent or control the spread of an infection or disease’ and these drugs are now available to people who are in substantially high-risk groups for contracting HIV. In South Africa, these groups include “adolescent girls and young women, sex workers, men who have sex with men, discordant couples and truckers,” (South African Medical Journal).
Aids website www.aids.gov also acknowledged these likely candidates for PrEP — “anyone who:
- Is it an ongoing relationship with an HIV-infected partner;
- Is not in a mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who recently tested HIV-;
- Is a gay or bisexual man who has had sex without a condom or been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection within the past six months;
- Is a heterosexual man or woman who does not regularly use condoms when having sex with partners known to be at risk for HIV (e.g. injecting drug users or bisexual male partners of unknown HIV status); or
- Has, within the past six months, injected illicit drugs and shared equipment or been in a treatment program for injection drug use.”
The panacea to non-adherence
Scientists from Oak Crest Institute of Science in California have announced the development of an implant that could solve the problems of adherence. The device is similar to a contraceptive implant in that it will deliver a controlled, sustained release of ARV drugs over a period of time. The Oak Crest scientists expect the invention to revolutionise the way HIV is treated and prevented as it will eliminate one of the main difficulties — complying with the proper dosage programmes.
Although the implant solution is in the early stages of development the forecast for a drastic improvement in the treatment of HIV is surely on the horizon.
The same old answers still solve common problems
Regardless of the drugs that may be available and the new innovations like the implant above, these tips from the Mayo Clinic and Aids.gov go a long way to reducing the risk of spreading HIV:
- Tell your sexual partners if you have HIV.
- Use a new condom every time you have sex.
- If you use a needle to inject drugs, make sure it’s sterile and don’t share it.
- Protect cuts, open sores, and your eyes and mouth from contact with blood.
- If you are HIV+ and pregnant, talk with your health care provider about taking ARVs.
- If you are an HIV+ woman, don’t breastfeed.
- Investigate drugs used to reduce the risk of sexually transmitted HIV infection for those at high risk. Such drugs are only appropriate if you don’t already have an HIV infection.
- Consider the evidence that male circumcision can help reduce a man’s risk of acquiring HIV.