I sometimes wonder if post-exposure prophylaxis for HIV, or PEP, might have arrived too soon. The idea is sound: taking anti-retroviral medication (ARVs) immediately after exposure to HIV prevents the virus from establishing an infection. We know it works, but when PEP was first being rolled out the drugs that were available were pretty harsh compared to what’s available now. Unfortunately the reputation of being a debilitatingly rough experience still dogs PEP today.
With those early PEP regimens side effects were common and severe enough that a lot of people simply never finished the 28-day course of drugs. The regimens that are used now (in Ireland and the UK it’s Truvada and Isentress) are much milder. Most people experience no side effects, and even among those who do they are usually pretty mild. Failure to complete the course because of side effects has become extremely rare.
So when I run across things like this, from the page about PEP on Ireland’s newly revamped “Spun Out” youth information website, I get kind of discouraged: