What is PrEP, and How is it Used in HIV Prevention?
Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is an HIV prevention method that reduces the risk of contracting HIV by stopping the virus from taking hold and spreading in the body. It is often prescribed to those who are at a high risk of getting HIV from sex and/or intravenous drug use. If you are considering options for improving safety, find out the answers to vital questions, including: “what is PrEP, and how can it help me?”
What is PrEP?
PrEP is highly effective at preventing HIV when taken as indicated. It is a once-daily pill that reduces the risk of contracting HIV from sex by more than 99 percent. When combined with other protection measures, such as condoms, the risk of getting HIV from sex is even lower.
Who Can Benefit From It?
If you are HIV-negative, you could benefit from taking PrEP if you:
- Have a sexual partner that is HIV-positive
- Do not consistently use a condom or other protective measures
- Have been diagnosed with an STD
PrEP is also recommended for those who inject drugs or share needles. It may also be a good option if you have been prescribed post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) but continue to practice risky behavior.
Is PrEP Safe to Use?
Now that you know the answer to the question: “what is PrEP?” You might be wondering how safe it really is to use.
In fact, research has found that PrEP is safe. There have been no significant health effects reported in those who are HIV-negative and have taken PrEP for as long as five years.
Some have reported minor side effects, such as nausea and digestive upset. These symptoms are not serious and usually go away over a period of time. If you experience symptoms that persist, it is best to contact your health care provider.
While PrEP protects you against HIV, it does not protect against other sexually transmitted infections or diseases. The best way to reduce the risk of getting other STIs is to combine PrEP with condoms.
How Long Does It Take to Work?
It takes around seven days for PrEP to reach maximum protection for receptive anal sex (bottoming). For receptive vaginal sex and injection drug use, PrEP reaches maximum protection at around 21 days of daily use. Currently, there is no data available for insertive vaginal or anal sex.
How Can I Get a PrEP Prescription?
If you think that PrEP might be a good option for you, the first step is to talk with your health care provider.
Because PrEP is only for HIV-negative people, you will be required to have an HIV test before starting treatment. You may need to undergo other testing to ensure that PrEP is safe for you to use.
When taking PrEP, you will need to visit your health center once every three months. During these appointments, you will undergo HIV testing and other follow-up procedures.
Does Insurance Cover It?
In most cases, yes.
PrEP is covered and is free under almost all health insurance plans. You will not be charged for medication or any of the lab tests or doctor’s visits needed to maintain your prescription.
You can find more information about paying for your health care services at Family Health Centers by clicking here.
Stay Safe and Healthy with Family Health Centers
At Family Health Centers, our team is here to help everyone in the community stay safe and healthy. We provide quality, affordable care at our conveniently located health centers in Nassau County.
If you still have questions, one of our health care professionals can personally answer them, including “what is PrEP?” and “is it right for me?
Contact us today to request an appointment.