Is PrEP For Me?
The Stigma Project: Is PrEP Right for Me?
Taking a daily pill for ongoing protection from HIV might not be for everybody, but it is an excellent option for a lot of people.
The CDC estimates that there are roughly 500,000 eligible individuals in the US that should be taking advantage of PrEP, and when you consider the benefits you may wonder why your doctor hasn’t offered it to you already. Figuring out if you are a good candidate for PrEP can seem daunting, is that really for me? The answer is maybe yes, and there is an easy way to find out.
Our allies over at the Stigma Project have created a handy tool that compiles the CDC’s PrEP Guidelines into a neat interactive questionnaire. It takes seconds to complete and helps anyone evaluate whether they should raise the topic of PrEP with their provider. Take it here:
Of course, you can always Contact us for quick and responsive answers to your unique situation. If it seems that PrEP is right for you, our navigators will help you through every step of the process from insurance to adherence and more. Don’t Wait, Call or Message Us Now.
What to Expect at the Doctor’s Office
My PrEP Experience has produced a simple reference tool to outline the major steps involved in PrEP including what to expect from your provider as well as information related to how insurance and co-payment programs will cover the cost of PrEP.
Some things to consider at the doctor are the following:
- PrEP is only for persons who are not infected with HIV, so your physician will need to administer an HIV test before starting PrEP.
- There is a concern that PrEP may worsen the condition of people with kidney or bone problems. Your physician will want to test your kidney function before starting PrEP and will want to do regular monitoring to make sure there is no change.
- As part of your ongoing healthcare your doctor will want to perform regular anal and throat swabs and urine or vaginal testing to check for other STIs such as syphilis, chlamydia, or gonorrhea. Frequent testing for these STIs, followed by careful use of antibiotics when present, is your best bet to identify, treat, and prevent the spread of these infections.
- PrEP doesn’t work instantly after taking the first pill. Your body must build up a high enough concentration of medicine to be effective at blocking HIV. This is known as loading doses. What it means is you will have to take the pill every day for one week if you have receptive anal sex or “bottom”, or three weeks if you have receptive vaginal sex, before the medicine will be effective at preventing HIV. Then take the pill everyday to maintain that high protective level.
- In a small number of people there is some gastrointestinal discomfort (e.g. gas, bloating nausea) or dizziness when starting PrEP. For those who do experience discomfort it nearly always goes away after a month. Contact us if you experience discomfort and we will help you get through this start-up period.
- Once you start PrEP you do not have to take it forever. PrEP is meant for people in a ‘season of risk’, and can be stopped if your life situation changes and you no longer are at high-risk for becoming infected with HIV.
- Important: there is a safe way to start and to stop PrEP and our navigators or your physician can help you to do that.
If you have any concerns or questions before, during, or after going to your healthcare provider, contact our health navigators who will be able to give you all the information you need.
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For information email JFlaherty@fenwayhealth.org