How To Get Started On Prep
You can get PrEP through Nurx by answering some simple questions about your health and lifestyle, as well as undergoing several lab tests. One of these is an HIV test, which will ensure that you are HIV-negative and can start PrEP. We can send the lab kit to your home, giving you a discreet option for obtaining PrEP. You can also have the testing done at a lab near you. If its a healthy option for you and can help reduce your risk of contracting HIV, we will ship your medication to you in discreet packaging.
PrEP is an effective way to prevent HIV in those who are at a higher risk of contracting the virus.
How Effective Is It
Skipping a dose or not taking PrEP regularly lowers the pills ability to protect you. If you take it:
- Every day, your level of protection is around 99%
- 4 days a week, your level of protection is around 96%
- 2 days a week, your level of protection is around 76%
It can take 7-20 days from when you take your first pill until its most effective.
Descovy is the newer of the approved drugs and, unlike Truvada, it is not yet known if Descovy will protect HIV-negative women who have sex with an HIV positive man,
Who Should Consider Prep
- Anyone who is in an ongoing relationship with an HIV-positive partner or someone who has partners of unknown HIV status. PrEP is also recommended for HIV negative persons whose partner is HIV positive and want to conceive.
- Anyone who does not regularly use condoms during sex with partners of unknown HIV status who are at substantial risk of HIV infection.
- Anyone who has recently tested positive for a bacterial sexually transmitted infection .
- Anyone who injects drugs and shares needles with people of unknown HIV status. Daily PrEP use can also reduce HIV among individuals who inject drugs by more than 70%.
PrEP WILL NOT protect you from STIs, like syphilis, gonorrhea, or chlamydia, so using a condom while on PrEP is advised.
If prescribed PrEP, individuals must follow up with a provider every 3 months to undergo screenings to ensure a negative result and assess any other issues related to medication side effects. Although side effects are minimum, the provider should monitor the patient throughout the time the patient is taking PrEP.
PrEP is covered by most insurance providers. If you do not have insurance or are unable to afford the co-pay there are patient assistance programs available.
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When I First Start Taking The Medication How Many Days Do I Have To Take The Medication In Order For It To Protect Me From An Hiv Exposure
The PrEP medication must reach and maintain a certain level in the blood and the bodys mucus membranes to provide protection. The amount of time it takes may vary from person to person. For people taking daily PrEP who engage in anal intercourse, the medication must be taken each day for 7 days to reach the level needed for full protection. Cis-gender MSM who are taking on-demand PrEP, must take two pills, 2-24 hours before having sex. For the receptive partner in vaginal intercourse, it takes approximately 20 days of taking the medication consistently to reach the level of full protection in the female genital tract. This is why cis-gender women and transgender men who have receptive vaginal intercourse should not take on-demand PrEP. People of transgender experience should talk with their healthcare provider about their specific sexual practices to best determine the length of time it will take to be fully protected.
How Much Does It Cost
If you have to pay for PrEP yourself, there are financial assistance programs that may help, including from the drug manufacturer, public health services, and clinical trials.
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When Your Viral Load Is Undetectable
Eventually, you want to have an undetectable viral load — one so low that a lab test canât find it. When you have an undetectable viral load, you canât spread the virus to your sexual partner.
Even when you reach that point, you must remember that the virus is still in your body. To keep it at bay, take your medicine every day, just as your doctor prescribes. If you skip doses or stop treatment, your viral load can go up quickly. The chance that you can transmit the virus to your partners also goes way up.
Tell your doctor if you have trouble sticking to your treatment. Talk to your partners, too. Discuss other kinds of protection, like condoms, safer sex, or pre-exposure prophylaxis . This daily pill can lower the chance of infection in people who donât have HIV by up to 99%.
Are You At High Risk
PrEP is a medication that is recommended for people who are at a high risk of HIV transmission. Some of the leading causes of HIV transmission include:
- Engaging in unprotected sex with a partner who is HIV positive or whose HIV status is unknown.
- Engaging in unprotected sex with partners who have additional sexual partners.
- Having unprotected sex if you have been diagnosed with an STI.
- Sharing needles or syringes.
The only way HIV can be transmitted to another person is through contact with blood, semen, or vaginal fluids. It is also important to note that uncircumcised males are at a slightly higher risk of contracting HIV since they are more prone to bacteria and infections. There is evidence that male circumcision can also reduce the risk of HIV transmission.
Homosexual and bisexual males are typically at a higher risk of contracting HIV. The transmission rate through anal sex is more than ten times greater than through vaginal intercourse. Receptive anal sex also has a higher transmission rate, meaning that the risk of HIV transmission is higher for bottoms than for tops.
However, this does not mean that tops are not at risk as the insertive partner may also contract HIV through anal intercourse. So, whether you are a top, a bottom, or versatile, you could be at a high risk of HIV transmission, and you should consider taking PrEP.
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How Do I Get Prep
You can get PrEP from some health clinics or Planned Parenthood health centers, local health departments, and doctors offices.
Your nurse or doctor will talk with you about the sex you have, the protection you use, and your medical history to see if PrEP is right for you. Theyll also give you tests for HIV, Hepatitis B and C, and other STDs. And they’ll test your kidneys to make sure theyre working well.
Some nurses and doctors dont know about PrEP, or they dont want to prescribe it because they dont have all the facts about PrEP. If you dont have a doctor, or your regular doctor or nurse doesnt prescribe PrEP, you still have options. The doctors and nurses at your local Planned Parenthood health center can provide up-to-date, accurate, non-judgmental information about PrEP, and help you get a prescription if PrEP is right for you.
What Are The Next Steps If You Think Prep Is Right For You
Make an appointment with your doctor and talk about why you think you would like to take this medication. Your doctor will run tests to check for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections as well as hepatitis A, B, and C, and check your kidney function before starting PrEP. Usually your provider will need to get prior authorization for the medication. Most insurances cover the cost. If your provider is uncomfortable prescribing this medication, ask to be referred to an HIV specialist in your area.
You will need to see your doctor initially after one month and then every three months, when HIV and sexually transmitted infection testing will be repeated. Your kidney health will be monitored via a blood test once within six months, and PrEP must be stopped if the kidneys are adversely affected.
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How Can To Help Stop The Spread Of Hiv
To lower the risk of getting HIV and other STIs:
- Those who are HIV-negative should consider PrEP. If a possible HIV exposure occurs, PEP may provide emergency protection.
- Use condoms during vaginal and anal sex.
- Get tested and treated for STIs and follow healthcare providers recommended screening schedule.
- Before having sex with someone, ask them to get tested for HIV and STIs.
- Those who inject drugs should get clean needles from a needle exchange.
- Avoid sharing needles for drugs and tattoos.
Talk to a healthcare provider about PrEP if a sexual partner has HIV with a detectable viral load or theres another known risk of contracting the virus. Heres a search tool for finding healthcare providers who prescribe PrEP.
Anyone who thinks they might have contracted HIV needs to get tested immediately. Early treatment can help manage the symptoms, lower the risk of complications, lower the risk of transmitting HIV to a sexual partner, and help people to live a long and healthy life.
What Are The Other Possible Side Effects Of Truvada For Prep
Serious side effects of TRUVADA may also include:
- Kidneyproblems, including kidney failure. Your healthcare provider should do blood and urine tests to check your kidneys before and during treatment with TRUVADA. If you develop kidney problems, your healthcare provider may tell you to stop taking TRUVADA.
- Too much lactic acid in your blood , which is a serious but rare medical emergency that can lead to death. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you get these symptoms: weakness or being more tired than usual, unusual muscle pain, being short of breath or fast breathing, stomach pain with nausea and vomiting, cold or blue hands and feet, feel dizzy or lightheaded, or a fast or abnormal heartbeat.
- Severe liver problems, which in rare cases can lead to death. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you get these symptoms: skin or the white part of your eyes turns yellow, dark “tea-colored” urine, light-colored stools, loss of appetite for several days or longer, nausea, or stomach-area pain.
- Bone problems, including bone pain, softening, or thinning, which may lead to fractures. Your healthcare provider may do tests to check your bones.
Common side effects in people taking TRUVADA for PrEP are headache, stomach-area pain, and decreased weight. Tell your healthcare provider if you have any side effects that bother you or do not go away.
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The Research Behind Prep
Truvada as PrEP was approved on the data from two research studiesiPrex and PARTNERthat took place between 2007 and 2010. At the time of the FDA approval in 2012, zero new HIV cases had been found among the individuals who took Truvada as prescribed in the research trials.
Despite these outstanding outcomes, it was still anticipated that the regimen would not protect all individuals, even when taken as prescribed. As Robert Grant, M.D., M.P.H., principle investigator of the iPrex study, reminded us: “PrEP is highly effective when used, although there is no guarantee that PrEP will work all the time. We do not make guarantees in medicine, and after 30 years working in HIV research and clinical care, I have learned to ‘never say never.'”
As of August 2020, more than eight years after its initial FDA approval, there are now approximately 655,000 people using PrEP globally. We have a very small number of cases worldwide where people using PrEP have contracted HIV they are listed at the end of this article. Researchers are seeking to learn from these cases and gain insights into how PrEP can most effectively be used.
How Is Hiv Transmitted Through Sex
HIV can be transmitted through semen, vaginal secretions, blood, and anal secretions. When a person doesnt use a condom during sex, its easier for semen, vaginal fluids, blood, and anal secretions to enter their body either being absorbed across the mucous membrane of the vagina or anus or entering the bloodstream directly.
Anal sex is a known risk factor for contracting HIV if other prevention methods are absent, especially for the receptive partner whose anus is being penetrated by the penis.
Vaginal sex can also lead to HIV transmission if other prevention methods are absent, especially for the receptive partner whose vagina is being penetrated by the penis.
Both anal and vaginal sex can also carry a risk of HIV transmission for the insertive partner .
Oral sex is thought to be very low risk. Rimming is also thought to very low risk.
Do I Still Need To Be Tested For Hiv
Yes. You need to be tested for HIV every 3 months and heres why:
- Even though the risk of getting infected with HIV is greatly reduced while on PrEP, theres still a small chance you could get infected.
- If you were to get infected with HIV, youd need different medicines. A person who has an active HIV infection needs at least 3 or 4 anti-HIV medicines.
- If you only take Truvada after being infected, you wont have all the medicines you need allowing the virus to develop resistance to the medicines youre taking.
- Developing resistance to medicines would limit your treatment options in the future.
Youll need to get an HIV test every 3 months while taking Truvada. Only 3 months worth of pills are given at a time and youll need an HIV test every 3 months to get refills.
Ask Your Doctor About Prep
The safest and best way to get HIV prophylaxis is by consulting your doctor or a licensed health care provider . Consulting your doctor is a way of ensuring that you have correct, standard information on PrEP. Similarly, you are also guaranteed genuine drugs and the right way to go about taking them.
As stated earlier, you can only get prescriptions from a licensed doctor or health care provider. Hence, you can get prescriptions from your regular doctor if he/she is familiar with the rudiments of the strategy.
One advantage of consulting your doctor about prophylaxis meds is that you get to ask him relevant questions pertaining to the medications and the entire process.
Some of the questions you could ask your doctor include:
- do I need to get pills for pre-exposure prophylaxis?
- are there any other options which I could use to reduce my risk of getting infected with HIV?
- how effective would anti-HIV drugs be in reducing my risks of getting infected with virus?
- do pre-exposure prophylaxis pills have any side effect?
- how much would it cost to get this medication?
- can you prescribe HIV prophylaxis pills for me?
- how often would I need to be tested for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases?
These questions would help you to get familiarized with the concept of pre-exposure prophylaxis. Before commencing PrEP meds, your doctor would need to run tests for HIV and STDs on you first in order to ensure that you do not already have the disease.
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What Does Prep Do
PrEP is a medication that helps to reduce the risk of HIV transmission by preventing the virus from multiplying or growing within the body. PrEP is a combination of two drugs which help to fight off infection and also stop HIV from reproducing within a healthy host.
Before a person can be prescribed PrEP by their doctor, they must first be tested for HIV. PrEP is intended to be taken before a person is exposed therefore, if they already have HIV, they need to seek another HIV treatment as opposed to PrEP.
PrEP must be taken daily for at least seven days before it is effective at preventing HIV transmission through anal sex. This is because PrEP tends to collect in the colorectal tissue first before it is more present in other bodily tissues. However, it is still recommended that condoms are used during intercourse for additional protection.
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Frequently Asked Questionsexpand All
If you are thinking about taking PrEP, you will be tested for HIV. If you are infected with HIV, you will need HIV treatment. If you are not infected, your obstetriciangynecologist may prescribe PrEP.
You must take a pill once a day. Missing doses can lower the medications effectiveness and put you at risk of HIV infection.
The most common side effects of PrEP include
nausea and diarrhea
These side effects usually go away on their own after a few weeks. Serious side effects of PrEP include liver problems and a condition called lactic acidosis, which happens when there is too much acid in the blood.
PrEP by itself is not guaranteed to prevent HIV infection. You also need to follow safe sex practices while taking PrEP:
Know your sexual partners and limit their numberYour partners sexual history is as important as your own. The more partners you or your partners have, the higher your risk of getting HIV or other STIs.
Use condomsUsing a latex or polyurethane condom every time you have vaginal, oral, or anal sex decreases the chances of HIV infection.
Talk with your ob-gyn about how to prevent infection. Steps to prevent HIV infection include the following:
Your partner should have treatment for HIV infection .
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