PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) is a once-daily pill that protects people from acquiring an HIV infection. There are two drugs approved for HIV prevention, Truvada and Descovy, which contain two medications: tenofovir and emtricitabine. Similar to how birth control prevents women from becoming pregnant, taking PrEP every day protects you from becoming infected with HIV if you come in contact with the virus.
Clinical study results show that PrEP is up to 99% effective in people who are at risk of getting HIV. According to the CDC, nearly 1.1 million people in the U.S. are at risk of contracting HIV. Generally, PrEP is recommended to help prevent HIV in people who:
- Have an ongoing sexual relationship with an HIV-positive partner
- Are involved in sexual relationships with multiple partners
- Engage in anal sex without using condoms with sexual partners who have been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the past six months
- Do not use condoms and have one or more sexual partners whose HIV status is unknown
- Share needles and syringes to inject drugs
Because PrEP is still relatively new (Truvada was approved by the FDA in 2012, while Descovy was approved in 2019), many people don’t know enough about it, and there are some myths circulating about the medication. To cut through the confusion, we’re sharing seven common misconceptions about PrEP, and the facts you should know.
Myth: You Can Take PrEP as Needed
Some people think you can take PrEP only on the day you plan to have sex, or before a big party weekend. This is inaccurate. For PrEP to be effective, you must take it once a day, every day. Only then can this treatment provide you with maximum protection against HIV.
Myth: You Don’t Need to Use Condoms on PrEP
Even when taking PrEP you should continue to wear condoms for extra protection, and so you don’t catch other sexually transmitted infections. PrEP does not prevent transmission of STIs like syphilis or gonorrhea.
Myth: PrEP is Only for Promiscuous People
When Truvada first became available some people were hesitant to take it for fear of stigma. But being proactive and using preventive HIV therapy does not mean somebody is planning to have sex with lots of different people (and no judgements if that’s what you’re into — just be safe). Whether your sex life is wild or mild, protecting yourself is smart.
Myth: PrEP is Only for Gay Men
PrEP can be used by women, straight men, and trans people too. Any healthy individual who has multiple sexual partners can benefit from PrEP and should consider taking it.
Myth: PrEP is Too Expensive
While paying for PrEP out-of-pocket could be expensive, most health insurance plans cover PrEP treatment, and there are payment assistance programs available for those without coverage or with big co-pays. If you request PrEP through Nurx their team will help you apply for payment assistance to make the medication affordable for you.
Myth: The Lab Work is Too Inconvenient
While it’s true that starting and staying on PrEP requires you to get blood tests every three months, to ensure that you’re HIV negative and that your kidneys are healthy, this shouldn’t be a barrier. Nurx now offers at-home PrEP test kits that allow you to do the necessary tests by pricking your finger, placing a few drops of blood on a card, and sending it into their partner lab.
Myth: You Need to Take PrEP for Your Entire Life
While it is true that PrEP therapy is only effective if you take it every day, you do not have to continue treatment if you think you no longer need it. If you are no longer sexually active or no longer in multiple sexual relationships and you and your current partner have both tested negative for HIV, you can stop taking PrEP.
The Bottom Line
To benefit from PrEP, it is important to know the facts about it. Don’t dismiss this highly effective preventive treatment for HIV based on rumor. When it comes to your sexual health, knowledge is power.
If you think it is right for you, request PrEP now.
This blog provides information about telemedicine, health and related subjects. The blog content and any linked materials herein are not intended to be, and should not be construed as a substitute for, medical or healthcare advice, diagnosis or treatment. Any reader or person with a medical concern should consult with an appropriately-licensed physician or other healthcare provider. This blog is provided purely for informational purposes. The views expressed herein are not sponsored by and do not represent the opinions of Nurx™.