What is Viraday?
Viraday (Prep) is a medication taken by people who are not infected with the HIV virus before sex to reduce the risk of getting HIV. The treatment is still being trialed in England but is widely available in Scotland, Wales, the United States, France, and Germany.
Studies have shown that Viraday medication can be up to 90% effective at preventing HIV infection when taken correctly, and the treatment is currently recommended for anyone who is HIV negative but at high risk of catching the HIV virus.
Viraday is normally provided as a pill. See your doctor if you would like to consider taking Viraday.
In this article, you’ll learn how Viraday works and how to access Viraday medication in your country. You’ll also learn how to make sure Viraday treatments are effective, and who should be taking Viraday every day.
How does Viraday work?
Viraday is a preventative treatment, which means that it does not cure HIV or reverse pre-existing infections. Instead, Viraday medications reduce the risk of ‘catching’ HIV by blocking the virus before it can spread in your body.
Viraday pills normally contain a combination of two antiretroviral drugs like tenofovir and emtricitabine. Prep inhibit the production of an enzyme called reverse transcriptase, which the HIV virus needs to replicate itself and start colonizing your cells.
Antiretroviral drugs like tenofovir and emtricitabine build up in your blood and tissues over time, which is why Prep is normally taken for some time before you engage in activities that may expose you to the HIV virus.
If you do not take enough of your Viraday medication or you miss several doses of a prescribed treatment, there may not be enough medicine in your bloodstream to block the HIV virus.
How effective is Viraday?
If Viraday medications are taken correctly, studies show that they can be up to 90% effective at preventing HIV infections.
However, studies conducted in Kenya, Tanzania, and Botswana have also shown that taking Prep medications incorrectly makes them much less effective .
If you are taking Viraday medications, it is important to take them regularly. Missing doses may increase your chances of catching HIV. This is particularly important if you are taking Viraday on-demand, as you will take fewer total doses, and missing a pill means significantly reducing the number of antiviral medications in your system.
Who should take Viraday?
According to guidance issued by the World Health Organisation (WHO), the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Viraday should be taken by anyone who is at high risk of contracting HIV. This includes anyone who:
- is in an ongoing sexual relationship with someone who is HIV positive
- isn’t in a mutually monogamous relationship with someone who recently tested HIV-negative and is a gay or bisexual man who has unprotected anal sex or has been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted illness over the past six months
- isn’t in a mutually monogamous relationship with someone who recently tested HIV-negative and is a heterosexual man or woman who has unprotected sex with partners whose HIV status is not known, where the partners are also at an increased risk from HIV
This also includes men who have sex with men, trans women, trans men, or heterosexual couples where one partner is known to be HIV positive .
If you are struggling with drug addiction and you are worried about contracting HIV, please see your doctor for advice.
Is there anything I need to do before I take Viraday?
Before you can start taking Viraday, you need to be screened for:
kidney function, to check that your kidneys are functioning properly before you start taking Viraday
the presence of HIV, because a pre-existing HIV infection should be treated with antiretroviral therapy
other sexually transmitted infections
hepatitis B (HBV) infections
Most Viraday treatments also help to suppress the hepatitis B virus, but they need to be taken more carefully, and you will need to be supervised by a medical professional if you already have HBV .
Your doctor will be able to order these tests for you. Your local sexual health or GUM clinic may also be able to help with the STI and HIV tests, or you could use an at-home testing service. In the United States, for example, myLAB Box delivers testing kits for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections straight to your door.