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PrEP & PEP Info
Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is a once-a-day-pill you can take to prevent HIV. The medication works to prevent HIV from establishing infection inside the body.
Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) is an HIV prevention strategy used after coming into contact with HIV to reduce their risk of becoming infected. PEP is a month-long course of drugs and must be started within 72 hours after possible exposure.
HAD AN EXPOSURE?
HAD AN EXPOSURE?
If you've had an exposure,
Post-exposure prophylaxis, or PEP, is a short course of antiretroviral drugs that stops exposure to HIV from becoming a life-long infection.
PEP must be taken as soon as possible to be effective and no later than 72 hours after exposure to HIV.
A doctor must prescribe PEP, so if your 72 hour window falls on a weekend, you’ll need to seek treatment at emergency rooms or urgent care clinics. Be honest, firm, and specific with the doctor you see that you’re seeking PEP for a potential, significant exposure to HIV.
If your 72 hour window period falls during the week, seek treatment with your Primary Care Provider, or a local HIV clinic. Click here for a list of health providers who can prescribe PEP.
PEP is 2-3 antiretroviral medications that should be taken every day for 28 days. Your medical provider will determine the treatment right for you based on your exposure to HIV.
QUICK START: How to Get PrEP
PrEP can only be prescribed by a medical provider – so contact yours today or find a PrEP-friendly provider here.
Be honest with your provider about the sex you have, how many partners you have sex with, and condom usage.
Step 2: Test
Your provider will test you for HIV, STIs and Hepatitis B. They’ll also test your kidney functions to ensure PrEP won’t stress your kidneys.
Some providers may write a prescription for PrEP right away pending the results of the tests, or they may wait until the test results are complete before writing a prescription.
You’ll be returning to your provider every 3 months for ongoing HIV, STI, and kidney function testing.
PrEP can be filled at most pharmacies or specialty pharmacies and is covered like other medications by most insurance providers, including most AHCCCS plans.
Gilead, the maker of Truvada, has an Advancing Access Program that can cover up to $4,800 in co-pays and deductibles each year. You can apply online or we can help when we’re out with the PEP/PrEP POD!
Gilead’s Medication Assistance Program can help you pay for the medication outright if you don’t have insurance or if your insurance doesn’t cover the medication. You’ll need to print the application for you and your doctor to complete.
Step 4: Take It!
It probably goes without saying, but PrEP will only work if you take it every day! For most people, it takes about 7 days to be built up to effective levels in anal tissue, and 20 days in vaginal tissue.
Find a routine that works for you to take the medication around the same time each day. For instance, keep the bottle next to your toothbrush, coffee mug, or keys – something you go to each day. Use a medication reminder app on your phone, or pick-up a weekly pill box organizer! Whatever works for you, stick with it!
Learn the facts about PrEP!
How does PrEP work?
Somebody who is HIV-negative and takes PrEP medication daily will have high levels of the drug in their bloodstream, genital tract and rectum before any exposure to HIV. Then, if exposure occurs, the medication stop the virus from entering cells and replicating. This prevents HIV from establishing itself and the person remains HIV negative.
The medication currently used as PrEP (Truvada, a pill containing two drugs, tenofovir and emtricitabine) was chosen because it has limited side-effects, few problems with drug resistance, reaches high levels in the genital tract and rectum, and remains in the body for a relatively long time!
Learn more about PrEP by checking out this video:
How effective is PrEP?
An iPrEx study showed that Truvada for PrEP provided a 92-99% reduction in HIV risk for HIV-negative individuals who took the pills every day. People who use PrEP correctly and consistently have higher levels of protection against HIV.
For most people, it takes about 7 days for PrEP to build up to effective levels in anal tissue, and 20 days in vaginal tissue. When stopping PrEP, individuals should continue using PrEP for four weeks after the last significant exposure. PrEP does not protect against other sexually transmitted infections like chlamydia, gonorrhea, or syphilis.
Are there any side effects?
The medication currently used as PrEP (Truvada) contains two drugs, tenofovir and emtricitabine, that were chosen because they have limited side-effects, have few problems with drug resistance, reach high levels in the genital tract and rectum, and remain in the body for a relatively long time.
In the iPrEx study, very few people reported any side effects, and for those who did, mild side effects such as nausea, headaches, and weight loss went away on their own after the first few weeks of taking Truvada, or when the medication was stopped.