Truvada vs. Combivir PEP. Should I Insist on Kaletra Too?
Dec 19, 2011
Hi. I performed unprotected oral sex on a male partner of unknownI status and I eventually received some ejaculate in my mouth. I was prescribed Truvada as PEP and began taking it within 48 hours of possible exposure. The next day, a couple hours after taking my second dose of Truvada, I began to develop painless red bumps on the back of my tongue and it felt as if my throat was swelling due to a lumpy sensation. I went to the ER and they said the bumps seemed normal but it could potentially be a side effect or allergic reaction to the Truvada. They discontinued my Truvada prescription and switched me to Combivir. Unfortunately, the pharmacist had to get my Combivir prescription from their warehouse so I couldn't take it on track with my PEP regimen. Basically, since the ER advised me not to take any more Truvada, I ended up missing a full day of PEP med--neither Truvada or Combivir. Once I finally received my Combivir I was only able to take my evening dose. I want to know how much of a risk was my having missed up to 1 (if considering Truvada) or 3 doses (if considering Combivir) in terms of adherance? Is this enough time for the virus to develop resistance if it is in my system? Also, since I'm only taking one medication, would you think it is worth it to insist that my doctor prescribe me a third drug such as Kaletra? How effective would it be to start Kaletra once other PEP meds have already been started? Lastly, what is the likelihood that the red bumps on my tongue were a reaction to the Truvada in the first place?
Response from Dr. Young
Hello and thanks for posting.
First off, while nPEP is generally recommended for sexual exposures, know that oral sex is usually very low risk.
Regarding your symptoms on Truvada, I'd think that the "red bumps" would be a rather unusual manifestation of allergy; especially if not accompanied by rash or fever. What clearly got the attention of the ER staff was your sensation of difficulty swallowing; but this could have just as easily been a "sore throat" or other minor infection (not HIV).
As for missing three doses of Combivir, it's difficult to accurately assess the impact of these missed doses. While it is assumed to be more important in the first days of PEP, the Truvada that you did take tends to last in the body for some time, offering a bridge of medications before your Combivir started.
There's some debate as to whether a protease inhibitor should be included for PEP or nPEP treatments. Current US treatment guidelines suggest the use of Kaletra for non-occupational exposures in nPEP; this isn't universally followed. Starting Kaletra, so many days after your exposure wouldn't likely add to significant additional risk reduction.
Hope that helps, BY
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