PrEP? What’s That?

PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) is a way of taking a medication before hooking up, that helps you keep from getting HIV. That means if you hook up and are on PrEP, the medicine helps prevent HIV in your body!

Right now, PrEP’s a pill (Truvada).  It’s a huge step in the fight against HIV! If used with proper and consistent condom use it’s a great way to stay HIV-negative.

Is It Right for Me?

If you’re HIV-neg and hooking up, you may want to take PrEP. How would you answer these questions?

  • Is your main sex partner HIV-positive?
  • Have you had anal sex without a condom recently?
  • Have you had an STD recently, such as gonorrhea, chlamydia, or syphilis?
  • Are you having sex with people whose HIV status you don’t know?
  • Have you used post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) in the past year?
  • Do you or your sex partner(s) use alcohol and/or drugs when having sex?

If you answered “yes” to any, you may a good candidate for PrEP.

Where can I get it?

Thinking about taking PrEP? Make an appointment with a doctor. Be honest about your sex life when you talk to him/her. If the doctor doesn’t know about it or won’t prescribe it to you, ask for a referral to an HIV specialist or another doctor who can help..Most people can get PrEP at little or no cost. It’s covered by all health insurance companies in California, including Medi-Cal. You may be required to pay a certain amount (a co-pay), but you may also be eligible for help paying

through a patient assistance program (check out the links at the bottom of the page).

Side Effects?

Some people have minor side effects when they first start taking Truvada, such as nausea, upset stomach, and headaches, but they usually go away after a few weeks. A few people have more serious side effects affecting their bones and kidneys. A doctor will do tests while you are on PrEP to find out if you are experiencing these problems.

Can I still get HIV?

No HIV prevention method is perfect, but when taken as prescribed every day, PrEP is estimated be 99% effective at preventing HIV! That’s a pretty good statistic, right? Don’t miss a dose, though. If you do, you lower your protection from PrEP. People have contracted HIV when being inconsistent with PrEP or after stopping PrEP.  

Also, remember: PrEP does not protect against any other STDs, so use condoms and PrEP when you’re having sex!

What’s PEP?

PEP (Post-Exposure Prophylaxis), also known as the morning after pill, is pretty revolutionary when it comes to preventing HIV. The pill is made of 2-3 antiretroviral medications, more commonly known as Truvada and works like this: if someone thinks they’ve been exposed to HIV (condom breaks, partner is HIV +, etc.) and they start the pill regimen as soon as possible after exposure (within 72 hours), the pill can be highly effective in preventing HIV from entering the body. Sticking to the rules is pretty important here: the pill needs to be taken everyday for 28 days.

PEP does not guarantee prevention of HIV transmission but is the most effective way to fight HIV from entering the body.

Keep in mind fellas, PEP also does not prevent any of the other STD’s out there. Condoms are still the most effective way of protecting yourself from gonorrhea, chlamydia, herpes, syphilis, and hepatitis. PEP is not meant to be used in replacement of condoms.

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