What is PrEP?

Question

What is PrEP?

Answer

PrEP is prescribed for HIV-negative people who are at a higher risk of getting HIV, most commonly through sex or injection drug use [2]. For example, if your partner is HIV positive, you could take PrEP to lower the probability that you will get HIV. PrEP is proven to be very effective when taken correctly and can lower your risk of getting HIV through sex by 99% and by injection drug use by 74% [1]. 

There are three types of PrEP available: two pills, Truvada and Descovy, and a long-acting injectable called Apretude. Truvada is a combination of tenofovir and emtricitabine [3]. Descovy is a combination of tenofovir alafenadime and emtricitabine [3]. All of these medications work to prevent you from getting HIV.

You need to take oral versions of PrEP daily for it to be most effective. Your protection from HIV will go down if you miss pills [3]. 

Descovy is as effective as Truvada in men who have sex with men and transgender women. It has not been studied in cisgender women and is not recommended for receptive vaginal sex [3].

 

Apretude is injected once monthly by your doctor. This option may be better if you have a harder time remembering pills. Appretude works better than Truvada in men who have sex with men, transgender women, and cisgender women who have receptive vaginal sex [3].

While PrEP helps prevent HIV, it does not prevent other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) like gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis, or HPV, so it is recommended to use a condom while using PrEP. 

PrEP is covered by most insurances under the Affordable Care Act, including Medicaid, meaning you shouldn't be charged for appointments, lab work, or medication [2]. If you cannot afford PrEP, there are resources available. Check them out at HIV.Gov.

 

Sources

[1] CDC. (2022, June 6). PrEP effectiveness. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/basics/prep/prep-effectiveness.html

[2] HIV.Gov. (2023, November 20). Pre-exposure prophylaxis. Retrieved from https://www.hiv.gov/hiv-basics/hiv-prevention/using-hiv-medication-to-reduce-risk/pre-exposure-prophylaxis/

[3] National LGBTQIA+ Health Education Center. (2023, February 28). PrEP action kit. Retrieved from https://www.lgbtqiahealtheducation.org/publication/prep-action-kit/


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