What is PrEP?
Pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, is a way for people who do not have HIV to help prevent HIV infection by taking a pill every day. The pill contains two medicines that are also used, in combination with other medicines, to treat HIV. When someone is exposed to HIV through sex or injection drug use, PrEP can help stop the virus from establishing a permanent infection.
When used consistently, PrEP has been shown to greatly reduce the risk of HIV infection in people who are at substantial risk. PrEP is much less effective when it is not taken consistently. PrEP is a powerful HIV prevention tool, and can be combined with condoms and other prevention methods to provide even greater protection than when used alone. People who use PrEP must commit to taking the drug daily and seeing their health care provider every 3 months for HIV testing and other follow-up.
How to go about getting PrEP in Montana
Interested in Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV prevention?
Here’s how you can get started:
- Do the research: Check out informative websites and read up about Truvada. Consider if it will work with you and your lifestyle. If you are someone who cannot remember to take pills every day, then this would not be an effective prevention tool for you.
- Get an HIV test: It is dangerous to take Truvada by itself if you are already infected with the HIV virus. It is important to get tested before taking PrEP.
- Talk with your doctor: Many doctors in the community will be unfamiliar with Truvada and its ability to prevent HIV infection. Bring your research with you to the visit so they can be knowledgeable when prescribing the medication and know what to monitor for side effects.
- Check your coverage: Many insurance companies are not covering the cost of Truvada for HIV prevention. Call your insurance company and inquire about what coverage your plan offers.
- Apply for assistance: If your insurance company doesn’t cover the medication, only covers a portion of it, or you are uninsured; don’t worry, assistance may be available through the drug company. There are eligibility requirements, so it might be beneficial to call the hotline and inquire if you qualify for assistance (PrEP assistance hotline: 1-855-330-5479). Click here for Assistance Application
- Get your prescription: If you and your doctor have decided that PrEP would be beneficial to you, and you have been able to get coverage (through insurance and/or assistance), then it is time to make an appointment with your doctor to get the prescription. If you are using the Truvada assistance program, follow the instructions on the application form to apply.
- Take Truvada daily: It is hard to remember to take a medication at the same time every day, especially if you aren’t sick. It will help to make a plan to remember your daily dose. Many people find using a pill box or phone alarm useful. It will also help to integrate your medication into a daily routine, such as when you brush your teeth.
- Have regular appointments with your doctor: Some people can have negative side effects from taking Truvada. It is important to communicate with your doctor about negative side effects, as well as having regular visits so they can check to make sure your body is tolerating it well and provide routine testing.
*Remember, Truvada only protects against HIV infection. It is important to continue using safe sex practices, such as condoms, when engaging in sexual activity to prevent other sexually transmitted infections.
*Truvada is expensive and some people decide to take it only when they are engaging in sexual activity. This medication DOES NOT work if used intermittently! So if you only engage in sexual activity on the weekends and you decide to take the medication on the weekend only, the medication will not protect you from HIV infection. You must take it every day in order for it to work!