What is HIV?
HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is a virus that damages important cells of the immune system. This affects the body’s ability to fight disease and infection, making it easier to get sick. Currently, there is no cure for HIV, but with proper treatment, it can be managed. People with HIV can live long and healthy lives. Without proper treatment however, HIV can lead to AIDS.
What is PrEP?
Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is a preventative medication regimen for people who do not have HIV but are at high risk of contracting it. When taken daily, PrEP medications can reduce the risk of contracting HIV through sex by 99%. To be effective, the medication has to be taken every day.
Who is at risk for HIV?
Anyone can contract HIV. However, individuals most at risk include gay or bisexual men, transgender women who have sex with men and injection drug users. At present, African americans and Hispanic americans are at greater risk of contracting HIV compared to other ethnicities.
HIV vs. AIDS
If not treated properly, HIV can lead to Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). AIDS is the most advanced stage of HIV and is defined by a weakened immune system that can no longer fight off serious infections. AIDS can also make you more susceptible to developing certain cancers such as lymphoma.