Educational efforts play an essential role in helping to inform people about options for preventing the spread of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV. Information about STIs themselves—signs, symptoms, the damage that they can cause, treatment options—as well as regular screening for these infections and the correct and consistent use of condoms can all be helpful.
In the case of HIV, some clinical trials have found that taking a combination of anti-HIV drugs prior to possible exposure to the virus can reduce the risk of becoming infected. This approach is called Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP). Also, in cases where someone is not taking PrEP and may have been exposed to HIV, taking a combination of anti-HIV drugs within 72 hours of exposure every day for 28 consecutive days can greatly reduce the risk of subsequently developing HIV infection. This approach is called Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP).
The Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) has an Emerging Infections Network (EIN). This group consists of infectious disease specialists who currently treat patients experiencing different infections. In the summer of 2013, the EIN surveyed doctors in Canada and the U.S. about their attitudes toward PrEP, how it was prescribed and perceived barriers to its use. In the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the use of a combination of two anti-HIV drugs—tenofovir + FTC, sold as a fixed-dose combination pill called Truvada—for use in PrEP.