When we first learned how to combat the HIV/AIDS epidemic of the 80’s and 90’s, safe sex was the only surefire answer to prevent HIV infection. PrEP or Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis is a new recent development you can take to avoid contracting HIV. It must be taken daily, but it has been proven effective according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Remember to continue using condoms; PrEP does nothing for STD’s like chlamydia, syphilis and others diseases on the rise.
Truvada is the brand name of this medication, which combines two anti-retroviral drugs. If not taken daily the chances of contraction rise greatly. When talking to your doctor about PrEP, be honest as to whether you can reliably take this medication every day. Taking it one time before a particular act does not mean it will prevent the spread of HIV.
If you believe you are at risk, follow these guidelines to help ensure you stay HIV free:
- If you have a relationship with a partner who is HIV positive, you should ask your doctor about PrEP.
- Anyone who is not in a monogamous relationship and is gay or bisexual who has had an STD within the last six months or has unprotected anal sex should take PrEP.
- Anyone who has unprotected sex with more than one partner whose HIV status is unknown, those who use intravenous drugs, sex workers or those that have bisexual male partners should use PrEP.
- A patient must get a doctor’s prescription before going on PrEP. Those who are prescribed PrEP must have normal kidney function, have a negative HIV test, show no signs or symptoms of HIV and have never had hepatitis B or have taken the vaccination against it.
- After receiving a prescription and taking it daily, a patient must have a checkup once every three months for counseling on how they are doing and how well they are adhering to the medication, assessments of side effects, HIV testing, kidney function check and more.
- Even though you are on PrEP, no method is 100% effective. One should still continue to get tested for HIV. A Truvada prescription costs between $1,300 to $1,700 for a month’s worth of pills. If you are considering PrEP, check with your insurance company and physician or urologist to see if the medication is covered. To avoid HIV practice safe sex and limit your number of partners. Protect yourself; you are worth it.
Dr M. Mirza
lgbt health wellness .com – 2014