what is PrEP?
PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) is the newest tool in HIV prevention. It’s a prescription medicine that, when taken every day, significantly reduces your risk of getting HIV by blocking the virus. If you are HIV-negative and think you might be at risk of getting HIV, taking PrEP can give you peace of mind and empower you to have the sex that makes you happy.
PrEP does not protect against sexually transmitted infections like gonorrhea or syphilis, so you should continue using condoms to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted infections. At Kind Clinic, once becoming a PrEP patient, you receive regular check-ups at no cost that includes HIV and STI testing, STI diagnosis and treatment, and general wellness exams.
IS PrEP FOR ME?
If you are HIV-negative and think you might be at risk of getting HIV, taking PrEP once a day can help you take control of your health.
You might be more susceptible to contracting HIV if:
- You have more than one sex partner.
- You do not regularly use condoms.
- You’re in an ongoing relationship with someone who has HIV.
- You’re not sure of your sex or needle-sharing partners HIV status.
- You or your sex partner have been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection in the past six months.
- You have injected drugs in the past six months and have shared needles.
- Your sexual partner has injected drugs in the past six months.
HOW DOES PrEP WORK?
PrEP works to prevent HIV by interfering with HIVs ability to copy itself in your body after exposure. This prevents the virus from establishing an infection.
When taken every day, PrEP has shown to reduce the risk of HIV infection in people who are more susceptible to contracting the virus 99%. Though the benefits of taking PrEP still exists it is less effective if not taken every day. PrEP can be more effective if combined with other ways to prevent HIV infection, like using condoms and drug abuse treatment.
HOW CAN I GET PrEP?
If you think PrEP is right for you, talk to your healthcare provider about incorporating it into your sexual health and wellness. If your healthcare provider is unfamiliar with PrEP, you can make an appointment with Kind Clinic. Our services are provided at no cost to you and we provide PrEP access at low to no cost.
Once PrEP is prescribed to you, you’ll need to return for blood work every one to three months. Our clinical staff will keep close track of any side effects, which are typically minor and not experienced by the majority of PrEP users.
Whether you have insurance or not our PrEP Navigators do all the “crazy-making” work for you by linking you to the appropriate financial assistance program/s based on your individual circumstances. In most cases you are able to access the medication at no cost to you.
PrEP should be taken daily. Remember, PrEP does not protect against STIs like gonorrhea, chlamydia or syphilis. Condoms are recommended to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted infections.
If you have questions about PrEP, contact our friendly staff at 512-853-9547.
The Kind Clinic is a full-service sexual health and wellness clinic dedicated to the treatment and prevention of sexually transmitted infections, including access to the HIV prevention drugs commonly known as PrEP and PEP. With a name and brand that represents: Knowledge, Inclusion, Nurture and Dedication, the Kind Clinic strives to deliver measurable impact for its community by providing state-of-the-art sexual health and wellness services to all members of the LGBTQ community and allies, regardless of race, creed, gender or sexual orientation.
PrEP typically takes 7 days to provide full protection for anal sex and 20 days for vaginal/front hole sex. It’s important to use condoms during those times to prevent HIV transmission.
Most PrEP users don’t experience side effects. In your first few weeks of taking PrEP, you might experience minor symptoms such as fatigue, headache, abdominal pain and weight loss. These side effects should go away on their own.
A small number of PrEP users might be at increased risk for kidney disease. While you’re taking PrEP, your doctor will monitor your kidney function with routine blood tests every three months.
Using condoms is a personal choice made between you and your sex partners. PrEP only protects against HIV so condoms can help you prevent things that PrEP can’t—like pregnancy, or STIs.
No. PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) can only prevent HIV when taken consistently BEFORE exposure. PrEP cannot be started as a method of treatment AFTER an event of HIV exposure (such as sex without a condom, needle-sharing drug use, or sexual assault).
PEP (Post-Exposure Prophylaxis) is the 28-day treatment regimen recommended for people who’ve been exposed to HIV. If you think you have been exposed to HIV, it is important that you start taking PEP as soon as possible. PEP is only effective if taken within 72 hours of possible HIV exposure.
If you are exposed to HIV during a weekend, or you cannot make an appointment for the next day with your primary care doctor, go to an emergency room for immediate treatment. Do not wait more than 36 hours to start PEP treatment.
If you are currently taking PEP, talk to your doctor before starting PrEP. Blood testing and a short wait time are required to make sure you are HIV-negative after finishing a PEP regimen.
To be effective at preventing HIV, PrEP must be taken every day as prescribed by your doctor. If you miss one dose, that’s okay. Take your next dose as planned. If you miss two or three doses while you’re sexually active, or if you don’t take PrEP as prescribed, check in with your doctor to make sure that you’re still HIV-negative. You can restart your PrEP routine after you get a new negative HIV test.
Data analysis from the iPrEx study found PrEP to be effective:
- For people who take 7 PrEP pills per week, their estimated level of protection is 99%.
- For people who take 4 PrEP pills per week, their estimated level of protection is 96%.
- For people who take 2 PrEP pills per week, their estimated level of protection is 76%.
PrEP typically takes 7 to provide full protection for anal sex and 20 days for vagina/front hole sex. It’s important to use condoms during those times to prevent HIV transmission.
In most cases Truvada for PrEP has not shown to interact with other medications. Talk to your doctor about any other specific medications you are taking.