Whatever you call it, PrEP for it.
PrEP is the safe
everyday HIV protection pill.
PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) is a new pill that, when taken daily, can help prevent HIV even if people are exposed to the virus. PrEP is for HIV prevention. PrEP is not a cure for someone who already has HIV. PrEP does not protect against other sexually transmitted infections (STI) or pregnancy.
- PrEP is for HIV prevention
- PrEP is a daily pill
- PrEP has little to no side effects
- PrEP is covered by most insurance
What is PrEP?
PrEP stands for Pre-exposure prophylaxis. It is a pill that HIV negative people can take to prevent getting HIV. The name of the drug is called Truvada and it has to be prescribed by a healthcare provider. If it is taken daily, it has been shown to reduce risk of HIV by over 90%. New PrEP approaches like longer-lasting pills and shots are being developed right now but they are not ready. For now there is a once-a-day pill.
Who should take PrEP?
Anyone who feels that they need PrEP should consider talking to their doctor about it. A few groups, for a variety of reasons (including lack of access to care, homophobia, transphobia, stigma), have been shown to have increased vulnerability to HIV. Some groups that may benefit from PrEP are:
- People who have an HIV positive partner that does not have an undetectable viral load
- Heterosexual men and women who do not regularly use condoms with partners of unknown HIV status
- Sexually active young African American men who have sex with men
- Sexually active African American transgender women
- People who inject drugs
- People involved in sex work
- HIV negative individuals who are interested in conception or pregnancy with an HIV positive partner
How effective is PrEP?
Research shows that when taken daily, PrEP can reduce risk of HIV by more than 90%. Taking PrEP also means making sure that you see a doctor for PrEP every 3 months for consistent monitoring and HIV testing.
If I take PrEP, do I still need condoms?
PrEP does not protect against other sexually transmitted infections like chlamydia, syphilis, or gonorrhea. Condoms are really good at preventing those. PrEP also does not prevent pregnancy. Condoms are still important as is open communication with your partner about safer sex and prevention.
How do I get PrEP?
Above there is a link to clinics that provide PrEP in your area.
Are there any side effects?
Side effects for PrEP are usually mild and most people do not get them. For those that do experience side effects, the more common ones include headache, abdominal pain, and weight loss. These usually go away over time. Other, more serious side effects include kidney problems, liver problems, bone problems, and having too much lactic acid in the blood. These side effects are rare though. That is why it is important to make sure you are seeing a doctor regularly while on PrEP.
Does insurance cover PrEP?
A lot of insurance plans do cover PrEP. PrEP may be covered under Medicaid but it depends on which state you live in. Places like Kentucky, New York, and Florida offer PrEP assistance with Medicaid. Also, the makers of PrEP have a medication assistance program for those who do not have insurance. See www.truvada.com for more information.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention HIV and African Americans Fact Sheet
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention PrEP Information
- HIV.gov PrEP information
- Black AIDS Institute
- Black AIDS Institute information on PrEP in African American Communities
- Black AIDS Institute Women and PrEP
- Kentuckiana AIDS Alliance
- Volunteers of America
- Physicians prescribing PrEP in Louisville
- Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness syringe exchange program