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PrEP & PEP Singapore: A complete overview of all your FAQs

Updated: Jul 11, 2023

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HIV Pre and Post Exposure Prophylaxis Singapore: Sexual Healthcare

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You must have heard about Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) HIV and Post exposure prophylaxis (PEP) HIV medication, the two primary types of antiretroviral treatment utilized to protect HIV transmission.

But are you aware of the fact of what they do or how they work, and who can use them?

If you are considering that PrEP or PEP could be right for you, first consult your healthcare provider for options.

What is PrEP medication?

Pre-exposure prophylaxis or PrEP medication can help prevent HIV infection in an individual who doesn't have HIV right now but at a very high risk of getting infected.

The PrEP method consists of taking the combo of either of the following drugs daily,

  • emtricitabine-tenofovir disoproxil (Truvada)

  • emtricitabine plus tenofovir alafenamide (Descovy)

By allowing PrEP medicine to enter your bloodstream, you can stop HIV from getting hold and infecting your entire body or the immune system.

A person who takes Truvada daily can mitigate his or her threat of getting HIV from sex by more than 90% and from injected drug usage by more than 70%, according to the latest statements of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Research recommends that Descovy is equally effectual in mitigating the risk of contracting HIV from sex. However, Descovy is yet to be examined on individuals who have receptive vaginal sex.

Research states that pre exposure prophylaxis hiv is less efficient if it isn't consumed regularly. This may be because there isn’t sufficient medication within your system to prevent HIV from getting hold and spreading. Along with PrEP intake, taking steps like utilizing condoms can further mitigate your risk of HIV contraction. PrEP doesn't stop other STIs, so you'll still have to continue practicing safe sex.

What is PEP medication?

On the contrary to PrEP, post exposure prophylaxis hiv or PEP should be taken within 72 hours after you had a high risk unprotected sex with somebody likely to carry HIV.

PEP or post-exposure prophylaxis is a short-term HIV medication that must be taken soon after a possible contraction to HIV to stop the virus from mutating and destroy your immune system.

You have to take PEP medicine within 72 hours after you had a high risk unprotected sex with somebody likely to carry HIV , otherwise, it won’t be effective.

According to most Singapore STD doctors, post-exposure prophylaxis must be used only in emergencies. Unlike PrEP, PEP medicine cannot be taken in advance and not meant for daily usage by people who might be exposed to HIV frequently.

What does PrEP do to your body?

  • Pre = before.

  • Exposure = Contacted HIV

  • Prophylaxis = Preventing an infection from gaining a foothold in the body

Pre-exposure prophylaxis or PrEP is more like an HIV prevention process where HIV-negative individual intake anti-HIV medicines before getting contracted with HIV to mitigate their risk of getting infected. The medications aid to stop HIV from spreading infection all over the body.

PrEP has been shown to mitigate the threat of HIV infection through sex for any sexual orientation as well as among people who share needles inject drugs.

It does not cover other STIs or pregnancy, and it’s not a cure for HIV.

PrEP is usually safe and most people on the PrEP report encountering no side effects, but certain side effects were seen during the clinical trials.

Participants have reported side effects that cover 4 prime categories:


9% of those who got Truvada stated to have nausea during the first month, compared with 5% of those who got a placebo. After the 1st month, no side effects were reported regarding nausea for both groups.


4.5% of participants who were given Truvada stated to encounter headaches, compared with 3.3% of those who were given the placebo.

Weight loss:

2.2% of those who were given Truvada stated to have a sudden weight loss of more than 5%, compared to 1% that were given the placebo.

A small escalation in serum creatinine:

Truvada is known to cause minor escalations in serum creatinine, a naturally happening molecule purified by the kidneys. In this study, 0.3% of those who were given Truvada encountered gentle increases in serum creatinine that carried on until the following test. Creatinine levels were seen to have a downfall once these participants stopped consuming PrEP. 4 of the 5 participants restarted PrEP without deterioration of the creatinine increase. Researchers kept track of kidney function throughout the analysis and found no threatening issues.

What does PEP do to your body?

PEP is quite efficient in preventing the spread of HIV infection if taken correctly, but even then, we cannot certify that it’s 100% effective. The sooner you begin taking PEP after a conceivable HIV exposure, the better.

While taking PEP, it’s crucial to keep following the additional HIV prevention methods, like using condoms each time you have sex, especially with a new partner and never reuse it, used needles, and works when injecting drugs.

The HIV medicines prescribed for PEP could have certain side effects in some individuals, which are treatable and aren’t life-threatening.

If you are routinely taking PEP medicine, consult with your healthcare provider if you encounter any side effect that bothers you or has become a constant issue.

PEP medicines could also interact with other medicine that the individual is taking This is called a drug interaction. For such reason, you must confess to your HIV healthcare provider about any other medicines that you take.

Who should take pre exposure prophylaxis?

Pre exposure prophylaxis Singapore has been shown to help mitigate HIV infection threat in several studies. Certain trials showed that PrEP mitigates the risk of HIV infection among gay and bisexual men and transgender women. Two bigger studies showed that PrEP also mitigates the threat of HIV infection among heterosexual men and women.

Who should take post exposure prophylaxis?

If you are considering that you can have PEP every time you indulge in unprotected sex, you got it completely wrong.

PEP must be taken only in emergencies and only if prescribed by your doctor. It is not prescribed to replace the daily use of additional HIV prevention measures.

Again, if you ever sense that you could be exposed to HIV frequently, consult with your healthcare professional regarding PrEP medicine.

How does PrEP medication work?

A treatment strategy called PrEP prevents individuals who are at risk of getting HIV from contracting the infection. One version of this procedure, called Truvada, is available in Singapore and the study into other drug-delivery procedures is blossoming.

Although PrEP is prescribed to prevent infection in case HIV enters the system, PrEP cannot be taken as a curable vaccine.

Then what is it?

It's identical to the method behind malaria-prevention pills that people take daily if they travel to or live in malaria-affected areas. If someone is going to a certain place where they are more likely to be exposed to the malaria-causing infection, having the drug in the system in advance makes it more difficult for the infection to get hold.

The same idea applies to HIV, as if someone's sexual partners have HIV, or if they share needles to inject drugs with HIV infected individuals, PrEP will reduce their chance of contracting HIV.

How does PEP medication work?

The idea of prescribing PEP is quite identical to prescribing PrEP but with more powerful antiviral to kill the HIV virus. PEP consists of a 4-week course (28 days) of HIV treatment that helps to prevent the HIV infection from affecting the immune system.

PEP works by preventing the virus from reproducing after recent exposure. The cells usually infected with HIV die naturally within a short span, decreasing the chances for HIV to mutate itself in the body.

When should I take PrEP and PEP for HIV?

How quickly an individual can consult an STI healthcare provider at the nearest STI clinic after exposure to HIV can remarkably affect their chances of getting the virus.

Both PrEP and PEP are useful combatants against HIV.

As the name signifies, Pre-exposure prophylaxis can be taken as a preventive measure if you want to stay safe. But again, it should be noted that PrEP will not be useful if you indulge in unprotected sex with an HIV positive person. That is why to know what is best between PrEP or PEP, you should go through HIV screening tests quite frequently.

If you think you’ve been contracted HIV, visit a Singapore HIV clinic within 48-72 hours. You will be prescribed an antiretroviral regime PEP, [procedure can be called post exposure prophylaxis hiv Singapore ] that can mitigate your chances of contracting HIV.

PEP is usually prescribed once or twice a day for 28 days.

PEP medicine has little or no effect if not taken within 72hours after a contraction to HIV, according to CDC. The medication isn’t usually prescribed unless it can be given within the 72-hour window.

Where can I get PrEP and PEP medication in Singapore?

Both PrEP and PEP are available at your STD family doctor or STD clinic, but to purchase them, you will need a prescription from trained doctor.

Besides it is not at all recommended to use PrEP or PEP without consulting an HIV doctor as you might have other STIs that require different treatment. If you have the slightest doubt about being contracted to HIV by having unprotected sex with an unknown person or shared needles to take drugs, just go to an HIV screening clinic near you and ask for a rapid HIV test.

There are multiple treatment options available for HIV, and PrEP or PEP is just preventive measures to stop the virus from spreading. Even if you want to take PrEP medication, you will have to consult with a doctor and get it prescribed.


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