nPEP is a post-exposure regime while PrEP is a prophylactic regime, but both work to prevent HIV infections. Naturally, both of these regimes have a lot in common. However, there are still some major differences between the two that are extremely important to understand.
nPEP is different from PrEP in mainly three ways:
- The intended time of use
- The drugs available and how to take them
- And the effectiveness of the therapy
WHEN TO USE nPEP AND PrEP?
Since both nPEP and PrEP provide prophylaxis against HIV, both need to be taken before an HIV infection has taken place. However, both these treatment options have different times of usage.
nPEP is a post-exposure prophylactic drug regime. This means that nPEP needs to be taken only after an HIV exposure has occurred. Usually, nPEP is given to patients by doctors in an emergency situation such as after getting exposed to HIV during unsafe sex and sharing injecting needles. Additionally, PrEP is also useful for patients who have been diagnosed with another STD in the past 6 months.
PrEP is most useful before exposure to HIV has occurred. This means that PrEP can be used regularly as daily protective medication for use against HIV. In fact, PrEP is one of the best methods to protect yourself from acquiring an HIV infection when your risk of exposure is high.
Factors that increase your risk of exposure include:
- Having multiple sexual partners
- Having unprotected intercourse
- Living with an HIV-positive partner
- Sharing drug needles
- Sharing personal hygiene products such as toothbrushes
WHAT DRUGS ARE AVAILABLE IN BOTH nPEP AND PrEP?
Generally, drugs overlap between the two regimes. However, their method of administration is different. nPEP involves taking a combination of three drugs daily for at least 28 days after getting HIV exposure. These three drugs include Tenofovir, Emtricitabine, and either Raltegravir or Dolutegravir.
PrEP on the other hand includes a different mode of administration. There are generally two ways PrEP can be taken. Everyday PrEP involves taking a single pill daily for as long as protection from HIV is required. This is the traditional method of administering PrEP and is approved for all people who make the cut for PrEP criteria.
EFFECTIVENESS OF BOTH REGIMES
Both PrEP and nPEP offer strong protection against HIV. However, they both have different criteria when it comes to their effectiveness. PrEP is, and continues to be, most effective after 7 days for anal protection and 21 days for vaginal and blood to blood protection of starting the regime. The reason behind this is that the drugs in the PrEP regime need sufficient time to build up in the body tissues. When taken regularly without any missed days, PrEP can provide up to 99% protection against HIV.
nPEP cannot be taken regularly as PrEP since it is meant for emergencies. This means that nPEP is only effective after exposure to HIV has taken place. There is also a time limit during which nPEP works best. Research suggests that nPEP works wonders when taken within 72 hours of HIV exposure. Starting the treatment early has a lot of benefits for the patients.