Our VP of Clinical Services at Nurx, Jessica Horwitz, chatted with Radio Q about the very important topic of HIV prevention and how PrEP can help HIV-negative people stay HIV-negative.
You can also listen to the full interview here.
Q: In case someone has never heard of PrEP, can you tell us a little bit about what it is?
A: PrEP is a medication called Truvada, and it’s a combination of two pills. It’s a once daily pill taken to prevent HIV, and if taken every single day it is incredibly effective, greater than 99% effective in reducing the chance of HIV if you’re exposed.
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about Nurx and the at home testing?
A: Nurx is a telemedicine platform with an asynchronous model, meaning you connect with a medical provider, not necessarily in real time, but through a chat platform to access the medical needs you may have at the moment. And we’re really excited to have launched an at home testing kit for PrEP in August of last year. So for the first time ever, you can do all of the testing you need to get on PrEP. For those of you that are aware there are required testing to make sure that PrEP is right for you and that you stay safe while on PrEP. And now you can do all of that in the comfort of your own home, through an at home testing kit.
Q: Who is PrEP right for? Is it also right for women?
A: Yes, absolutely. PrEP is right for you if you feel like PrEP is right for you. So if you feel like you are at a risk for HIV or you may want to explore what your behavior may look like to be at risk for HIV, PrEP is right for you. And it’s really about an individual persons decision, if this is the modality they need to stay HIV negative. And to answer your question, hundred percent PrEP is right for women, if they feel like they may be in risk of HIV. Too often women are left out of the conversation around HIV prevention.
Q: Yes, that is so important, thank you for bringing that in. Can you tell us the infection rates for women? Like myself you don’t really think about it and then you’re presented with this and you’re like “OMG I really need to look into this!”.
A: Totally. New infections in the US, women account for nearly twenty percent of those new infections every single year. It is not something that is a very small, minuscule percentage, so it’s a huge disparity in terms of who’s affected. We know that in certain cities and certain demographics, we see a much higher amount than the twenty percent. Often, women are sort of feeling they may not be at risk, and truth be told they still have a really high risk for HIV. Particularly for certain women.
Q: How do you get on PrEP through Nurx, and how is that different from going to the doctor’s office?
A: First thing, we bring the ability to access PrEP to you, instead of having to jump through hoops and potentially find a place and maybe not have it be the most wonderful experience when you go in. The way it works is you simply make a Nurx account and answer a few basic questions about your health history. It’s reviewed by our medical team, and our medical team will order the lab kit for you that will show up in your house a few days later. You complete the labs at home, our medical team will review those results, and as long as you’re HIV negative and as long as your kidney function is normal we’ll start you on PrEP. We will write you a prescription and get the PrEP delivered to your door just a couple of days later.
Q: This may sound like a silly question, but is it safe to get PrEP online?
A: It is safe to get PrEP online as long as the PrEP is ordered by a clinician. There are lots of ways to order PrEP online through online pharmacies, and Nurx is not that. This is really similar to if you were in person, you’re just communicating through telemedicine instead of sitting in front of someone.
Q: This may be a concern for a lot of folks. How much does PrEP cost? Is it expensive, is it affordable?
A: There is a lot of information out there right, talking about how expensive PrEP is. Truth be told, Truvada is very expensive, however there is a lot of programs in place to make PrEP completely free. There’s something called patient assistant programs that our team at Nurx will sign patients up without them really having to do anything. These programs make sure that PrEP is free for most people or very affordable for people that don’t qualify for it to be completely free.
Q: What about getting lab work done every three months? Is that something you need to do?
A: It is. CDC says that we need to check your kidney function and make sure that Truvada for PrEP is not affecting your kidneys and that you’re staying HIV negative in order to continue on PrEP. We sort of take the guesswork out of it, you’ll get a reminder and we’ll make sure that the lab work comes right to you so you can do it easily and stay on PrEP.
Q: If people have more questions about PrEP, and whether it’s right for them, where would they go?
A: First thing I would say, check out Nurx! We’re happy to not only get you on PrEP, we also provide a lot of information about the clinical efficacy of PrEP. And there is other really good resources in terms of getprep.org, and thebody.com has really great resources on PrEP as well, if you’re just looking for general information, and about what it is, how it works and if it may be right for you.
Learn more about PrEP and how to get started here.
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