Everything you need to know about Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEp)

April 15, 2020

As you might be aware, April is STD awareness month.

In our last post, we focused on the Ready, Set, PrEP program and covered how you can get PrEP for free through the program. Here we focus a bit more on what PrEP is and how it works.

What is PrEP?

Pre-exposure prophylaxis, also known as PrEP, is a daily medication that can be taken to prevent HIV from taking hold and spreading in your body.

The term PrEP comes from “pre” meaning “before,” “exposure” in regards to coming into contact with HIV, and “prophylaxis” which is a treatment taken to prevent an infection from happening.

It is important to know that PrEP is not a cure for HIV, nor is it a vaccine. It does not teach your body to fight off infections. Nor does it protect against other sexually transmitted diseases. Instead, when taken daily, by being in your bloodstream, PrEP can help prevent HIV.

To be the most effective, PrEP should be taken consistently. According to the CDC, it has been found that when taken daily, PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV from sex by ~99% and by ~74% among people injecting drugs.

Who is PrEP for?

PrEP is about self-determination. It’s a tool with which you can take control of your sexual health and wellness. It is designed for people who are HIV-negative and vulnerable to getting HIV. PrEP can be prescribed for gay and bisexual men, for heterosexual men and women, for transgender individuals, and for genderqueer or nonbinary people.

PrEP can also help people who inject drugs stay HIV-negative. The FDA approved PrEP for adults in 2012 and expanded the approval to include adolescents in May 2018.

You might consider PrEP if:

  • You don’t always use condoms (external or internal) when you have anal or vaginal intercourse. Always means every time, not sometimes.
  • You don’t always ask your partner(s) to wear a condom.
  • You have been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection in the last six months.
  • You’re unsure of the HIV status of your sexual partners.
  • You're in a relationship with an HIV-positive partner who may or may not be on HIV treatment.
  • You are a person who injects drugs or are in a sexual relationship with a person who does.
  • You’re HIV-negative and interested in PrEP.

Medications approved for PrEP

The FDA has approved two different pills for PrEP, Truvada and Descovy.

Truvada is approved as PrEP for sexually active adults and adolescents of all genders and sexualities. Descovy is approved as PrEP for sexually active adults and adolescents who engage in receptive anal sex. Descovy is not approved as PrEP for people who engage in receptive vaginal intercourse. Both Truvada and Descovy have been shown to be safe and up to 99% effective at preventing HIV.

How is PrEP taken?

For both Truvada and Descovy, one tablet is to be taken daily. It can be done so with food or between meals, but it is best to take it at the same time everyday. Be sure to follow your doctor’s advice when prescribed and not to skip any doses.

PrEP Side Effects

While most people taking PrEP report no side effects, some have been reported in clinical trials and with patients who have taken it for several years.

Short-term side effects might include nausea, headaches, and diarrhea. Possible long-term side effects may include an impact to liver and kidney health and loss of bone density.

The Ready, Set, PrEP Program

We touched on this previously in the intro, but the Ready, Set, PrEP Program is a program that aims to provide PrEP medications at no cost to people who qualify.

Its goal is to expand the knowledge about, and access to, these medications to aid in reducing new infections of HIV. In particular, the Ready, Set, PrEP Program is aimed to help those who do not have coverage for prescription drugs.

You can read more about the program in our last blog post, but the bottom line is that with the program, if you qualify, you can get PrEP for free.

To receive PrEP medication at no cost through the Ready, Set, PrEP you must:

  1. Test negative for HIV;
  2. Have a valid prescription from your healthcare provider; and
  3. Not have health insurance coverage for outpatient prescription drugs.

There may, however, be some fees associated with clinic visits and lab tests based on your income.

Do you need to fill your PrEP prescription? We are here to help.

Whether you are enrolled in Ready, Set, PrEP or not, you can fill your prescription by visiting our website and filling out this form or by calling us at:

PharmCo Rx Main Office (North Miami Beach, FL)

‍Toll Free: 888-919-7411

Tel: 305-919-7399

PharmCo Rx Palm Beach (Palm Springs, FL)

‍Tel: (561) 651-9393

FSRX (Orlando, FL)

Tel: 407-381-3085

PharmCo RX offers FREE Same-day or Next-day delivery, as well as discrete packaging for your PrEP medication needs.

If you have any more questions about PrEP, here’s a comprehensive list of frequently asked questions by the San Francisco Aids Foundation https://prepfacts.org/prep/the-questions/

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