July / August #93 : PREPing For Sex - by Nina Flanagan

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Table of Contents

Publisher's Letter


Sex Ed’s Rubber Rubout

PREPing For Sex

On Me, Not Inn Me

Out Of Data


I Go Shout Plenty

Class Pictures


Time Out

Bill Me Later


Natal Attraction


Wall Of Controversy

Shades Of Gray

Give Me Fever

Bad Meds

Hot And Bothered

Pass The Scalpel—And The Bucks

Northern Exposure

Cell Low, Cell High

Pillow Talk

Neg (-) But (+) For Lipo

A New Gay Plague?

Hard Workin’ Beans

Viread, Once A Wonder Drug

It's His Party

Out Of Sight

The Truth About Cats And Dogs (& A Horse And A Bird)

Getting’ Hot In Here

The Big Bang Theory

Walk This Way

Most Popular Lessons

The HIV Life Cycle


Herpes Simplex Virus

Syphilis & Neurosyphilis

Treatments for Opportunistic Infections (OIs)

What is AIDS & HIV?

Hepatitis & HIV

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July / August 2003

PREPing For Sex

by Nina Flanagan

What if the most effective HIV prophylactic wasn’t pleasure-muting, giggle-inducing latex, but a pill you could take once a day—and prevent infection? That’s the idea behind pre-exposure prophylaxis, or “PREP,” a logical spinoff of PEP (post-exposure) that’s been in the works for years. But PREP has made even less progress than its equally controversial big brother, mainly because many preventionistas turn into Chicken Little when talk of condomless prevention comes up.

Now, after promising animal trials and an infusion of cash from the visionary Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the once-a-day nuke Viread (tenofovir) wil be studied as PREP in humans. The participants, who will try the preparation as a pill and as a vaginal gel, are 1,600 sex workers worldwide, to be enrolled by the end of the year. (Sorry, guys: Testing in males isn’t on the drawing board yet.) 

The theory behind both PEP and PREP is simple: the HIV-killing drug gets inside the initial target cells and prevents HIV from replicating. Since tenofovir has low toxicity and causes few side effects, it’s the best available candidate for PREP, says study director Wade Cates, of Family Health International, the global health nonprofit. Controversial or not, if tenofovir proves effective, Gilead has promised to consider providing it free or at low cost in areas where the need for prevention is greatest.  

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