What Should Nurses Know About PrEP?

Anne M. Teitelman, PhD, CRNP


October 05, 2011

In This Article


Patients are asking a lot of questions about HIV prophylaxis. What is PrEP, and what do I need to know?

Response from Anne M. Teitelman, PhD, CRNP
Assistant Professor, Family and Community Health Division, School of Nursing, University of Pennsylvania; Nurse Practitioner, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

What Is PrEP?

Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is a promising new biomedical intervention to prevent HIV transmission in HIV-seronegative people who are at high risk of becoming exposed to HIV. PrEP involves daily oral antiretroviral medication therapy. Research is currently being conducted to assess the efficacy of 2 different combinations of antiretroviral medications: tenofovir only and a combination of tenofovir and emtricitabine (TDF/FTC) (Truvada®, Gilead Sciences, Foster City, CA).

Why Do We Need PrEP?

Although an estimated 350,000 new HIV infections have been prevented in the United States between 1991 and 2006,[1] 50,000 new cases still occur each year.[2] According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is estimated that 1,178,350 people were living with HIV infection in the United States in 2008 and of those, approximately 20% were undiagnosed.[2,3]

Among those living with HIV, some populations are disproportionally affected. For example, men who have sex with men (MSM) comprise 61% of new infections, and black male and female patients have an incidence rate 7 times that of white patients.[3] Moreover, individuals in serodiscordant relationships, in which one partner is HIV-seropositive and the other partner is HIV-seronegative, are at elevated risk.

PrEP could be another key factor in comprehensive services for HIV prevention, particularly for groups at high risk of acquiring HIV. Practitioners and patients need to have the most up-to-date information to understand available options and make necessary decisions.


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