HIV PrEP is for people who are HIV-negative and would like to maintain that status. However, deciding to start this medication is not quite so simple. Nurx wants you to understand all the implications of taking PrEP so you can make the best decision for your health and your future.
Should I Be Taking PrEP?
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there are federal guidelines to help individuals determine if PrEP is right for them. Top of the list? You must be HIV-negative and 18 years old or older. You should also meet at least one of the following criteria:
- Have a high risk of contracting HIV through sex or injection drug use
- Be in an ongoing sexual relationship with an HIV-positive partner
- Be in a sexual relationship with a partner or multiple partners whose HIV status is unknown
- Have had one or more occurrences of anal or vaginal sex without using a condom in the past six months
- Have been diagnosed with gonorrhea, chlamydia, or syphilis in the past six months
- Have injected drugs, shared needles or works, or been in drug treatment in the past six months
- Have an HIV-positive partner while trying to conceive
Reading Between the Bullet Points
OK, so those are the black-and-white facts about who should take PrEP. But, remember it’s not that simple. What lies in the gray? Personalities, feelings, habits, medical history, and resources just to name a few. Here’s a breakdown.
Are you forgetful? Do you have difficulty forming a new habit? If so, these are traits to consider when deciding to take PrEP. Being forgetful doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t take PrEP. It simply means doing so will take some effort on your part. That’s because PrEP must be taken orally every day to reach its maximum effectiveness. To remember your daily dose of PrEP, try popping the pill at the same time every day, especially when you’re doing something that’s already part of your regular routine. Perhaps that’s when you have coffee in the morning or when you brush your teeth at night. Another popular tactic to combat forgetfulness is to set a reminder or alarm on your phone.
Admitting to taking PrEP used to come with baggage as some people worried that using the medication painted them as promiscuous. However, evidence from Kaiser Permanente San Francisco indicates that PrEP use among gay men, in particular, is increasing. Still, Nurx is sensitive to the possible stigma PrEP carries, so they are discreet about the testing and shipping that goes along with HIV PrEP prescriptions. In any case, if you are considering PrEP while in a relationship, it is important to welcome your partner into an open dialogue about the medication.
Do you or your sexual partner struggle with condom use? If so, PrEP is one of the best ways to avoid HIV infection. However, PrEP does not protect against other sexually transmitted infections, such as gonorrhea and chlamydia. Combining condoms with PrEP will reduce your risk even further.
In addition to screening for HIV antibodies, healthcare providers will test for hepatitis B and STIs. They will also check kidney function, discuss sexual activity and risk level, and women will take a pregnancy test. This all happens before they prescribe PrEP. It is important to be honest with your provider.
While HIV PrEP should be covered by health insurance and Medicaid, you may have to jump some hurdles in the process. Depending on your plan, there could be substantial out-of-pocket costs. In addition, anyone who takes PrEP needs to have regular medical visits and testing for HIV infection at least every three months. These ongoing appointments may also come with copays or out-of-pocket expenses. For those who do not have health insurance or prescription coverage, there are programs that offer assistance.
Now that you have the rundown, do you feel PrEP is right for you? Get started now!
Nurx is a free platform offering easy online access to doctors and seamless delivery of medications. No more time-consuming trips to the clinic and no more frantic pharmacy runs. We put you in control of your own health, empowering you to get the care you need, when you need it.