Dr. Demetre: So this question is about partying smart when you’re on PrEP. Do alcohol or drugs affect how PrEP works?
Dr. David: Got questions about PrEP? #AskTheHIVDoc has all the answers.
Dr. Demetre: Alcohol and drugs, there’s no drug-drug interaction. It doesn’t lower the level of PrEP. But there’s a really significant interaction it can have in your life. Which is, if you’re going to be drinking, if you’re going to be doing drugs, and you’re on PrEP, using drugs in a way that really affects your life badly may mean that you’re not taking your PrEP right. And if you don’t take your PrEP right, if it sits on the shelf, if you miss a lot of doses, it’s not going to work. So if you’re partying, party smart. If part of your strategy for preventing HIV is being on PrEP, be on PrEP, even if you’re taking drugs or drinking alcohol. What I care about is your health, so if you do that smart, and you have a plan to prevent HIV that’s smart, you’re going to stay HIV-negative and healthy.
As long as you’re taking PrEP as prescribed, consuming drugs and alcohol should not directly affect how well PrEP works. However, substance use may affect how consistently you take the medication, and missing doses can lower the effectiveness of PrEP.
And one important note about PrEP and inection drug use: One major study of PrEP use among injection drug users (IDUs) suggests that PrEP may not be as effective at preventing the transmission of HIV through needle, syringe, and drug-works sharing as through sex. The IDUs in the study who reported they were taking PrEP as prescribed and at least had detectable PrEP in their blood had a 74 percent reduced risk of HIV.
#AskTheHIVDoc is a video series from Greater Than AIDS featuring top HIV doctors providing answers to commonly-asked questions about HIV prevention, testing and treatment.
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