Your health is important and knowing the options available to you is a vital part of keeping both you and your partners safe. PrEP has been creating a huge buzz thanks to its revolutionary approach to reducing the chance of contracting HIV.
What Is PrEP?
Otherwise known as Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, PrEP is a medication that, when used in conjunction with other therapies and other prevention methods, can help keep at-risk people from contracting HIV. It’s taken once a day for as long as you’re at risk for HIV: Some people will take it for their whole lives. While PrEP HIV medication isn’t a treatment protocol for people who are already living with HIV, it’s an incredible tool for people concerned about exposure.
How PrEP Works:
PrEP is a pill that’s taken every day. It isn’t a post-exposure prevention drug; it often gets confused with PEP, or Post-Exposure Prophylaxis. PrEP needs to be taken continuously in order to work effectively. It’s composed of two main medicines: tenofovir and emtricitabine. Together, these work to prevent the HIV virus from gaining a foothold in your body after exposure. While protection is always important, PrEP is an important part of the sexual and overall health of any person who may be exposed to HIV.
Where to Get PrEP:
PrEP is a prescription based medication that isn’t available over the counter. It does require some lab work to check for pre-existing STDs and to make sure you haven’t already contracted HIV, as well as checking on your kidney function. You’ll also have a discussion about your current sex life or intravenous drug use to ensure that PrEP is right for you.
You can get a prescription for PrEP from your local sexual health clinic, or from your physician. Online companies like Nurx can also help you get PrEP without a doctors visit. Simply fill out some questions online and a medical team will confidentially review your information and decide of PrEP looks like a good choice for you. Most lab work can be completed at home and sent in without the need to go in person.
According to Planned Parenthood, PrEP is up to 90% effective at preventing the contraction of HIV even if you’re exposed to it without protection. It isn’t 100%, so alternative protection should always be pursued. This is especially important for reproductive health as PrEP isn’t birth control. If taken during pregnancy, PrEP can also help both mother and baby avoid contracting HIV.
Possible Side Effects:
As of now, no serious side effects have been connected with PrEP. There are mild side effects that range from nausea to headaches to loss of appetite. Typically, these will go away with continued use of PrEP. If you are experiencing any discomfort or lingering symptoms, however, it’s always important to talk to your healthcare provider.
Take control of your health today and talk to your provider about PrEP. PrEP is covered by most major insurance companies and many places, including telemedicine services such as Nurx, will work with you to ensure that you can get access to it if you need it, even from the comfort of your own home.