PrEP, short for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, helps to keep HIV negative people from becoming infected.
Human immunodeficiency virus attacks the body’s immune system, preventing the body from fighting off even the simplest of diseases. While HIV is not the epidemic that it once was, it can still pose a potential problem for just about anyone who is sexually active.
A relatively new medication called PrEP has been shown to be hugely successful in reducing the risk of HIV infection in one daily pill. Here is everything you need to know about PrEP.
WHAT IS PREP?
PrEP, which stands for pre-exposure prophylaxis, involves the use of anti-HIV medication to keep people who are at a high risk of contracting HIV from becoming infected. The medication uses a combination of two drugs, emtricitabine and tenofivir, sold under the name Truvada. The medication is administered in the form of a single pill taken once every day. PrEP is approved for use by the FDA and has been shown to be highly effective when taken daily. The medication works by interrupting HIV’s ability to copy itself and reproduce in your body after exposure. This prevents the virus from replicating, spreading, and inevitably making you sick. For individuals who do not have HIV but have a high risk of infection, PrEP can significantly reduce your risk if taken regularly. Using PrEP every day lowers the risk of contracting HIV through sexual contact by over 90 percent.
WHY SHOULD YOU TAKE PREP?
Pre-exposure prophylaxis is recommended for people who do not have HIV but are at a high risk of infection. According to federal guidelines, anyone who is HIV-negative but in a sexual relationship with an HIV-positive partner should take PrEP medication. PrEP is also recommended for: (a) Anyone who has multiple sexual partners or is otherwise not yet in a mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who has tested negative for HIV, (b) Gay or bisexual men who have been diagnosed with an STD in the last 6 months, (c) Gay or bisexual men who engage in anal sex without the use of a condom, (d) Heterosexual men and women who do not regularly use condoms when having sex with partners who do not know their HIV status but may have a high risk, and (e) People who have used injected drugs in the last 6 months and have shared needles. If your partner is HIV-positive and you are both considering pregnancy, talk to your doctor about taking PrEP medication. PrEP can actually protect both you and your baby from getting an HIV infection during sex, during pregnancy, and while breastfeeding.
Is PrEP Safe to Use?
PrEP is FDA approved and is generally completely safe to use. Some people may experience nausea and other side effects. But these side effects should subside over time. Studies show that PrEP causes no serious or life threatening side effects. If you do experience side effects that are severe or do not go away, you should contact your physician or health care provider immediately. PrEP may not be for everyone as it requires daily scheduled medication and regular visits to your health care provider. PrEP can be prescribed by your doctor, physician, or any health care provider. You do require an HIV test before you begin taking PrEP to ensure that you do not already have an infection, and you must get tested every 3 months while you are on the medication. PrEP must be taken daily for it to work, so talk to your doctor to make sure it is the best choice for you.
How PlushCare Can Help You With PrEP
1. Book an appointment with a physician. Our physicians can discuss PrEP therapy, answer questions, and provide PrEP medication.
2. If you want to start PrEP, the doctor will order lab tests for you to have completed at a local lab. This ensures you're HIV negative and safe to take PrEP. The tests take only 30 minutes to complete.
3. If you don't have HIV, the doctor will send a 90-day prescription for PrEP to a pharmacy of your choice.
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 ensure the treatment plan is working for you.