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How to Get PrEP Online

How to Get PrEP Online

Thinking PrEP might be for you? Read on and find out how you can get a PrEP prescription online!

Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is available online through PlushCare. PrEP must be prescribed by a healthcare professional, but PlushCare is making it easy to see a doctor online and get your PrEP prescription without a visit to the doctor’s office (and yes, an online doctor can write a prescription!.

Getting PrEP online is a simple three step process:

  1. Our patients have an online appointment with the physician of their choosing, during which they discuss PrEP and whether they are a good candidate for the prescription, Truvada.
  2. Following the online appointment, patients get the necessary bloodwork done at a lab in their area.
  3. Once the results come in the doctor will send in your PrEP prescription. This process will then be repeated every three months so that we can make sure PrEP is working for you.

Take a look below to see if our online PrEP program might be for you!

Background on PrEP for HIV

HIV, or human immunodeficiency virus, still remains a worldwide health problem.

The disease became an epidemic in the 1980s and 1990s and continues in epidemic proportions. In the United States alone, an estimated 1.2 million people have HIV, many of whom are unaware that they are infected.

On average, there are about 50,000 new HIV infections in the United States every year.

While medicine and preventative measures, particularly the use of condoms, have increased to ensure that HIV can be managed and controlled, there still remains no actual cure for the disease.

PrEP is one of the most recent advancements in anti-HIV medication. The preventive medication is allowing people all over the world to sleep soundly knowing that they are safe from contracting HIV.

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What is PrEP?

PrEP is an anti-HIV medication that prevents HIV infection in HIV-negative individuals. PrEP is intended for those who do not have HIV but may be at a high risk of becoming infected.

The medication combines two HIV medicines, emtricitabine and tenofivir, into one pill that is sold under the brand name Truvada. PrEP works by interfering with the virus’s ability to create copies of itself in your body, thereby preventing HIV from replicating and spreading.

PrEP must be taken once a day to be effective. When administered properly, PrEP has been shown to reduce the risk of contracting HIV through sex up to 99 percent. It can reduce the risk of contracting HIV from using injected drugs by over 70 percent. PrEP can also be combined with other medications and protective strategies for further risk reduction.

Many people mistake PrEP as a type of vaccine, but it works differently. Vaccines use weakened or killed forms of certain microorganisms to teach white blood cells how to fight off the actual, full-powered microbes.

PrEP requires daily administration of a single pill. This places the medicine in your bloodstream to actively stop the HIV from spreading in your body. If you stop taking PrEP every day, you will not have enough medicine in your blood to actually block the HIV virus.

Who should take PrEP?

  • Anyone who is HIV-negative and has a high risk of infection
  • Gay or bisexual men who engage in anal sex without the use of a condom
  • Gay or bisexual men who have been diagnosed with an STD in the past 6 months
  • Straight men and women who do not use condoms when engaging in sex with partners who are at a high risk of HIV infection
  • Straight men and women who do not regularly use condoms while having sex with partners of unknown HIV status
  • People who have used injected drugs in the last 6 months and shared needles
  • Anyone who is not in a mutually monogamous relationship and has recently tested negative for HIV. However, you should discuss this with your doctor to decide if PrEP is truly necessary beyond typical safe-sex practices.

Who Should Not Take PrEP?

PrEP is not for everyone. It requires you to take a pill every day to maintain protection and effectiveness, which means forgetting to take the pill is out of the question. PrEP also requires regular visits to your doctor, which may be difficult if you have already have a hectic schedule.

Fortunately, PlushCare and other virtual doctor providers make that easy. PlushCare allows patients to face-to-face with a doctor from a phone or computer.

Some people experience side effects like nausea, which will improve over time. No studies or evidence show that PrEP poses any serious or life threatening problems. PrEP is also not intended for people who have HIV or may have been recently exposed to HIV.

Those who suspect they have been exposed to the virus within the past 72 hours should consider taking PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis), which involves taking antiretroviral medication to prevent an infection after potentially being exposed to the virus via sex or injected drug use. PEP must be started within 72 hours after the initial potential infection. PlushCare also offers PEP.

How Much Does PrEP Cost?

Over a full year, PrEP costs about a $20,000 for the medication. Don't despair! Most of our patients pay next to nothing out-of-pocket for PrEP when they use insurance. Insurance plans should cover the cost of the medication via your plans' Pharmacy Benefits.

Sometimes when the patient is billed, it is due to a high deductible. If this happens, it is important to check with PlushCare to ensure that the insurance plan is correctly billing - insurance plans do make billing errors.The Gilead (company that makes Truvada for PrEP) Copay Assistance Program is recommended for all privately insured patients to help offset a high deductible, or to simply offset the copays.

At PlushCare, we are here to help you secure this assistance. When you get PrEP online through PlushCare, our PrEP Coordinators will guide you through the payment process. If you are eligible for copay assistance we will make sure that you are able to obtain it. If you're uninsured, the best route to getting PrEP is to visit Gilead's Advancing Access website and fill out a quick form to better understand your options.

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Is PrEP Safe?

In general, PrEP is very safe. However, there are a few things to be aware of:

The most common side effects of Truvada include:

  • Diarrhea, nausea, tiredness, headache, dizziness, depression, problems sleeping, abnormal dreams, and rash.
  • Kidney problems, including kidney failure. Your healthcare provider may do blood tests to check your kidneys before and during treatment with Truvada.
  • Too much lactic acid in your blood (lactic acidosis), which is a serious but rare medical emergency that can lead to death.
  • Severe liver problems, which in rare cases can lead to death.
  • Bone problems, including bone pain, softening, or thinning, which may lead to fractures. Your healthcare provider may do tests to check your bones.
  • Changes in your immune system. If you have HIV-1 infection and start taking HIV-1 medicines, your immune system may get stronger and begin to fight infections. This may cause minor symptoms such as fever, but can also lead to serious problems.

When you book an appointment with one of our online physicians the doctor will discuss all of these possible side effects. They will also ask about your medical history to make sure that you are a good candidate for PrEP. We at PlushCare want to make sure that our PrEP patients receive quality care, so if you ever have questions or concerns about the way PrEP might be affecting your body you can book a follow-up with your PrEP doctor.

Where is PrEP Available Online?

PrEP with PlushCare is not yet available in every state. Email us at [email protected] if your state is not listed below and we will notify you when PrEP with PlushCare is available.

PrEP is available through PlushCare in Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Washington State, Washington D.C., Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

We are working on making sure that everyone that needs PrEP can access it. Send us an email at [email protected] and keep an eye out for our next state launches to ensure you get Truvada as soon as it is available in your state.

Get PrEP Online

PrEP can only be prescribed by a professional health care provider, but that prescription can be provided online. You are required to take get lab testing before you begin PrEP, and you must get repeat tests every 3 months while you are taking the medication.

PrEP is available online through PlushCare’s PrEP Program. PlushCare’s program allows you to speak with a physician online; the necessary bloodwork will be ordered; and, you will receive your PrEP prescription in a matter of days.

Be sure to ask your doctor about any concerns that you may have and stay open and honest to ensure that you are getting the best quality care. PlushCare is the perfect answer for anyone who would rather not go through their primary healthcare provider to get PrEP or anyone who simply wants to get top notch medical care from the comfort of their home.

How To Get PrEP Online:

To get PrEP, click here and book an appointment with a physician. Our physicians will discuss how to get on PrEP, the potential side effects of Truvada, the costs of the medication, and ultimately provide a PrEP prescription so that you can start your treatment.

If you decide that you want to start PrEP, your doctor will order blood tests for you to have completed at a lab in your area. We work with national lab companies and will send the orders to a lab near you. The lab tests will confirm that you are HIV negative and thus a good candidate for the Truvada medication. The tests take only 30 minutes to complete and you will receive your results within 3 business days.

Once the lab results are reviewed and are normal, the doctor will send a 90-day prescription for PrEP to the pharmacy of your choice.

Every three months, you will repeat this process. This repetition is to ensure that you are staying healthy and that the medication is working. As you approach the end of your 90-day prescription, we'll order new lab tests and book a quick check-in with your doctor to discuss how you are feeling, answer questions, address concerns make sure that the treatment plan is working for you.

If you have any questions in the meantime, you can always give PlushCare a call at 1-888-731-8734, where our Care Coordinators are ready and willing to assist you.

Doctor on phone
Margaret A Spera, NP, APRN

Margaret A Spera, NP, APRN

Margaret Spera is a Connecticut-based nurse practitioner. She has worked in hospital settings, family practices and senior care facilities for over 40 years.

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