Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) is a medication taken by HIV-Negative individuals (one pill, once a day) to reduce the chances of contracting HIV. Truvada is the medication approved for PrEP. It must be taken consistently for it to work best. It is not meant to replace condoms, it is meant to provide an extra layer of protection against HIV. PrEP does not protect against any other STDs, so it’s still a good idea to use condoms.
Who’s PrEP For?
PrEP is recommended by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for HIV-Negative people who are at substantial risk of getting HIV. A medical provider can help you determine if you are healthy enough to take PrEP, and will need to monitor your health after prescribing it. People who are more likely to acquire HIV include HIV-Negative individuals that fall into one of the following categories (but not necessarily limited to):
- Anyone in an ongoing sexual relationship with an HIV-Positive partner
- A man who does not consistently or correctly use condoms with male partners of unknown HIV status
- Anyone who shares dug injection equipment
- Anyone who is sexually active with multiple partners
Where can I get PrEP?
PrEP is only available by prescription, so you’ll need to see a doctor and pick up your medication at a pharmacy. (This means you’ll need insurance.) Further assistance may be available, so speak to the HIV/ PrEP Specialist at HIHAF to know what your options are.
Why should I consider PrEP?
PrEP is a powerful prevention tool that, combined with safer sex practices, can further protect you from getting HIV. You must be committed to your medication regimen. Side effects associated with Truvada include upset stomach, headache, nausea, and dizziness. People don’t commonly have them, and those who experience these side effects don’t typically experience them for long. A very small number of people do experience more serious liver and kidney side effects, so regular blood work and monitoring are crucial. These are factors to consider when weighing out your options. While you take PrEP you should be routinely tested for HIV to ensure that you remain HIV-Negative.
When can I start taking PrEP and when should I stop?
You can start as soon as your doctor is comfortable prescribing it for you! If you want to stop taking it, talk to your doctor about it. Reasons people discontinue taking PrEP include:
- Beginning a monogamous relationship with another HIV-Negative person
- Not consistently taking medication
- Experiencing side effects that last longer than a couple of months
How do I get started?
Talk to the HIV/PrEP Specialist at HIHAF today. We’ll guide you through the first few steps, set you up for success with your doctor visit and ensure proper counseling along the way. We’re here for you.