PrEP: Is It Right For Me?
PrEP is a classification of medication that prevents the spread of the HIV. Right now, Truvada by Gilead is the only medication approved for PrEP. More physicians and clinis are offering to prescribe patients PrEP. This is great for access for those at high risk and raises the question for potential consumers: “Is it right for me?”
Q. How do I decide if I should consider PrEP?
A. When our staff meet with individuals regarding PrEP there are a few areas to specifically review. One, what is your risk for HIV transmission? Consider the types of sex you have, whether recreational or work. If the behaviors are low-risk (ex. vaginal & vaginal) then you may decide to take advantage of other preventative measures besides PrEP (condoms, lube use, getting tested, cleaning toys, etc.) If you are engaging in higher risk sexual behaviors, (ex. penis and anal), then you may find benefits in examining PrEP as part of your prevention plan. Second, are you able to take a medication each day at the same time? Your answer may indicate if PrEP is the next risk reduction step for you. For the medication to be at optimal potency it needs to be taken daily.
Q. What is the lifestyle impact of Truvada?
A. Truvada is a daily pill. You need to take it at the same time each day with or without food. The regularity is what keeps the medication at the optimal potency to prevent contracting HIV.
Q. What happens if I miss a dose?
A. Try and implement reminders (phone alarms, etc.) to help you reduce the frequency of missing. Even if you miss a dose, you can get back on track. Once you remember, go ahead and take the pill. Getting back on track is the priority.
Q. What should I expect from my first appointment?
A. Each provider may approach this differently. Prism Health North Texas is very thorough with our medical care. In your first medical appointment with us, you will have blood work and a full STI panel run. It should last an average of 20 minutes. Truvada filters through your kidney so the panels will provide a preliminary understanding of your kidney functions and a comparison point for once you are on the medication.
Q. After my first appointment, how often do I come back?
A. Minimally, you should see your provider every three months to check your labs. For your second appointment with PHNTX, it is scheduled one month after your first visit. This is to check in with you how you are doing taking your medication and see if there were any side-effects you want to talk about. The 3 month check-ups last between 15-20 minutes and include a basic physical, pertinent labs and a STI panel.
Q. How long until the drug is effective?
A. 20 days. After 20 days of consistent pill consumption, the levels should be at the right point to prevent contraction.
Q. What questions should I ask myself before I make my first appointment?
1) Are you at high risk?
2) Are you in a monogamous relationship with a person who has HIV and is detectable?
3) Are you sleeping with people who have HIV or whose status you do not know?
4) Are you ready to take on the commitment of the medication?
If you answered yes to any of these questions (and definitely if you answered yes to more than one), it could be worth a discussion with a medical care provider. You can call and ask us about starting PrEP at 214-521-5191.
Q. I believe the medication is the right fit for me, but I don’t know if I can afford it.
A. Prism Health North Texas provides some individuals with 100% coverage, call 214-521-5191 to see if you qualify. If you have insurance, consult your insurance to first find a provider who is in-network. Additionally, Gilead offers co-pay assistance, prescription assistance, and additional financial aid for those without insurance.
Q. Why should I pick Prism Health North Texas for my PrEP care?
A. You deserve healthcare personalized to you. The care providers at Prism Health North Texas see you as a whole person with your own unique needs and challenges. You will find your providers to be easy to talk with, honest, and caring. Here, you can trust that you will receive the highest quality of care.