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PrEP for HIV

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  • Written By: Baton Rouge General
PrEP for HIV

The highest rates of new HIV diagnoses are in the South and in Louisiana, 34% of new cases are in people aged 25-34 and 24% in people aged 13-24. PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) is an FDA approved prescription medication for people who don’t have HIV but are at risk of getting it and want reliable, added protections. When taken daily, the pill is 90% effective in preventing the spread of the disease, slowing disease progression and prolonging life.

How does PrEP work?

PrEP works by encasing the cells in the body and preventing HIV from replicating and spreading. PrEP works to stimulate the body to produce antibodies that can fight off germs and viruses. Protection can begin as quickly as 7-20 days after the first dose.

What are the side effects of PrEP and is it safe?

PrEP is safe with minimal side effects that can include headaches, weight loss, fatigue or upset stomach. Rare side effects can include liver, kidney or bone problems, rash, and lactic acidosis.

Does PrEP protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs)?

PrEP does not protect against STIs or pregnancy, so continue to use condoms to prevent other STIs and your choice of contraception method to prevent pregnancy.

If I start PrEP, do I have to take it for the rest of my life?

No. PrEP can be taken as needed with proper medical guidance. When taken daily as prescribed, it generally takes 7-20 days to begin working. Be sure to talk to your healthcare provider before starting or stopping PrEP.

Is PrEP right for me?

PrEP is for anyone at increased risk of getting HIV, however only a healthcare provider can help you determine if it’s right for you. Those who have a relationship with a person living with HIV, anyone who doesn’t regularly use a condom and those who share injection drug needles benefit from regular daily use of PrEP medications.

What drugs are approved for use as PrEP?

There are currently two pills and one injection that are approved for use as PrEP. Truvada and Descovy are similar to the birth control pill and are taken daily for the best protection against getting or spreading HIV. Apretude is the only injection approved for used as PrEP.

Where can I get PrEP?

PrEP can be prescribed by any licensed healthcare provider. Medicaid and most private insurance plans typically cover PrEP. Under or uninsured patients should talk to their provider for information on patient assistance programs that can help offset the cost of the medication.

It’s important to talk to your healthcare provider about your risk of contracting or spreading HIV and about which medication may be right for you. Discuss resources and support options in your area and don’t forget to get tested regularly!