What is HIV PrEP?
For those who are HIV-negative, but are at high risk for developing HIV – there’s good news! PrEP is a treatment that can reduce the chance of getting HIV.
PrEP stands for “pre-exposure prophylaxis.” Truvada is a once-a-day pill used for HIV PrEP that prevents infection from the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that is transmitted in semen, vaginal fluids, blood, and breast milk.
Truvada can block HIV from infecting a person who has been exposed, and when taken daily, has been shown to reduce the risk of HIV by 92% or more in people at high risk for infection. These results were seen for all genders and provided protection for risky anal or vaginal sex and for injection drug use.
Who should use PrEP?
- Anyone over the age of 18 at significant risk for HIV. Teens age 12 to 17 may also benefit from PrEP but the process to prescribe is longer because of health care laws for minors.
- Individuals who have been the receiving partner during anal or vaginal sex with no condom AND 1) If the partner was HIV + and you did not know if their virus status was “undetectable” or 2) you are not sure about their HIV status.
- You received treatment for an anal or vaginal STI in past 6 months.
- Anyone who often has sex when judgment is substantially impaired by alcohol.
- Individuals who use recreational substances prior to or during sex (“Chem-Sex”), or use stimulants such as meth, cocaine, or crack.
- You exchange benefits like money, housing, drugs, or other things you value for sex or your partner does.
- Your partner is or may be sleeping with other people and refuses to use a condom.
- Your primary partner is HIV + and he/she has difficulty keeping up with HIV treatment or your anxiety about sex with him/her is getting in the way of intimacy.
Note: You should not use PrEP if you are HIV-positive (Truvada is not strong enough to treat HIV by itself), if you don’t think you can keep up with a daily pill and regular medical visits, or if you have chronic kidney disease and are unable to get close medical care for this condition.
Are the side effects on PrEP?
Most people taking once daily Truvada have no side effects. If side effects occur, most patients reported mild headaches, upset stomach and weight loss that most often resolved after a few weeks.
Rare but serious complications involving the kidneys and liver are possible, which is why PrEP should not be shared or sold to individuals not receiving medical support. Even if a rare side effect occurs, when Truvada is stopped, most patients do not experience permanent harm to their health.
How much does PrEP cost?
This depends on your individual insurance plan; so an exact dollar amount cannot be determined until you talk to a health care provider.
Having health insurance can make getting PrEP much easier. If you have trouble affording PrEP, Ochsner can also help you navigate resources available to most patients to make PrEP services more affordable. In addition, PrEPLocator.org can help you find a community health center that offers special support for people who cannot afford insurance.
How do I get on PrEP?
Ochsner offers confidential and professional PrEP services at many of our clinics. The first step is to call our HIV PrEP Appointment Scheduling Hotline at 1-855-241-9347.