To the left is a short video from My PrEP Experience about PrEP basics.
Below, you'll find a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) about PrEP, provided by the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. If you don't find an answer to a question you have here, feel free to check out their website, PrEPfacts.org, for more information. They have separate FAQ pages for women and for men (along with transwomen).
Map of North Carolina PrEP Providers
There is a search bar in the lower right-hand section of the map. You can search by zip code or city.
PrEP Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Behavior change is very difficult, even when the stakes are high. Despite all that we know about the dangers of tobacco, millions continue to smoke. We also know that we should exercise and eat well, yet obesity is on the rise. We’ve got the same struggles when it comes to HIV prevention and sexual health.
Until now, adopting safer behaviors—including condom use—has been the only option available for people who wished to protect themselves from becoming infected. Lots of people were able to successfully change their behavior in the late 1980s and early 1990s, so much so that the rate of new infections dropped by an amazing degree. Since then, however, helping people maintain safer behaviors or getting younger people to adopt them has gotten a lot harder. In fact, more than 50,000 people are estimated to have become infected each year since the mid- to late-1990s. That’s about 800,000 new infections since then. Among gay and bisexual men, new cases are actually on the rise, especially for young black and Latino men.
And it’s not just individual behaviors that put people at risk for HIV. There are many external factors that contribute, too. These include poverty, homophobia, racism, homelessness—all of these things can significantly increase HIV risk while also contributing to significant health disparities across various racial and socio-economic groups.
We desperately need new tools in order to turn things around. PrEP is a new HIV prevention strategy that puts the power of prevention in the hands of HIV-negative people. Now that PrEP has been shown to be effective in clinical trials, the next step is to determine whether and how PrEP can be used to reduce HIV infections in communities.
PrEP is not the right fit for everyone but may be useful for men, women, and transwomen who are at risk for HIV infection through sex and injecting drug use and okay with the idea of taking a daily pill to prevent HIV.
If you can answer yes to any of the questions below, then PrEP may be one HIV prevention strategy to consider.
• Do you use condoms sometimes or not at all?
• Do you often get STIs in your butt?
• Do you often get STIs in your vagina?
• Have you taken post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) more than once in the past year?
• Are you in a serodiscordant relationship, where your sexual partner is HIV positive and you are HIV negative?
• Are you in an open relationship or having anal and/or vaginal sex with multiple partners?
• Are you having sex with someone whose HIV status you don’t know?
• Are you having sex with someone in a city or region where the HIV prevalence is high—that is, where there are large numbers of people living with HIV?
Before you start using PrEP, it is essential to make sure you are HIV negative; you run a small risk of developing HIV drug resistance if you are already infected with HIV when you start PrEP. That’s because Truvada is not enough on its own for treating HIV; if you are already infected, the virus in your body could become resistant to the two drugs in the Truvada pill. HIV drug resistance means certain medications will no longer keep the virus in check if you are HIV-positive. For this reason, it is really important that before you start using PrEP, you get tested for HIV using an RNA test, which looks for the actual presence of virus in your blood. During early HIV infection, it’s a more reliable test than the standard antibody test, which looks for the presence of antibodies to HIV, not the virus itself.
When you are using PrEP, you should get tested for HIV every three months to make sure this HIV prevention strategy is working for you.
If a daily dose is missed, PrEP is still effective but the level of HIV protection may decrease. It only works if you take it correctly and consistently.
According to an important PrEP study among gay and bisexual men and transwomen:
• For people who take 7 PrEP pills per week, their estimated level of protection is 99%.
• For people who take 4 PrEP pills per week, their estimated level of protection is 96%.
• For people who take 2 PrEP pills per week, their estimated level of protection is 76%.
There are not enough data available to provide specific timing guidance on non-daily use, so the FDA recommends PrEP be used daily to achieve the highest level of protection.
For the first few weeks of starting Truvada for PrEP, some people complain about nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and dizziness, with these minor symptoms eventually resolving themselves over time.
Some people in clinical trials had elevations in blood tests that looked at kidney function. With this particular side effect, there were no physical symptoms, so it is important to remember that if you take PrEP, you need to get routinely checked by your doctor to make sure your kidneys are working properly.
Some people in studies had a decrease in bone mineral density within the first month. However, but these changes were small, did not progress over time, and did not increase risk for fracture. Once Truvada was stopped, the bone mineral density returned to normal.
To date, we have not heard any reports of health insurance companies denying requests to fill prescriptions for PrEP in the United States. Some health insurance companies have pre-authorization requirements to determine if you are eligible to have it covered under insurance. This doesn’t necessarily mean that your particular plan will cover it—we can’t guarantee that! However, reports indicate that most people have no trouble getting their private healthcare insurance to cover PrEP.
My PrEP Experience has a wonderful resource monitoring insurance and Medicaid coverage of Truvada for PrEP. If you have trouble getting a prescription for Truvada as PrEP, or getting a PrEP prescription covered by insurance or Medicaid, please send an email to email@example.com.
Yes! Gilead’s co-pay assistance program is specifically set-up for this purpose and can help those eligible cover the cost of co-pays. Contact Gilead for more information and to find out if you are eligible.
My PrEP Experience has a wonderful resource monitoring insurance and Medicaid coverage of Truvada for PrEP. If you have trouble getting a prescription for Truvada as PrEP, or getting a PrEP prescription covered by insurance or Medicaid or Gilead, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.