Join us October 23-29, as we take part in PrEP Awareness Week, a time to raise awareness about medication that aims to decrease the risk of contracting HIV for those exposed to it through sex or injection drug use. This year’s theme – “PrEP is for Every Body” – embraces two social movements. The first social movement focuses on sex positivity. Sex positivity emphasizes that all consensual sexual activities are fundamentally healthy. The second social moment, body positivity, celebrates all bodies regardless of size, shape, skin tone, gender, and physical abilities. The New York State Department of Health’s (NYSDOH) campaign features eight ambassadors from all over New York State. These individuals signed up to share their experience with PrEP to help people understand the benefits. This week we aim to partner with NYSDOH and their ambassadors to raise awareness of PrEP and sexual health.
What is PrEP?
Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is a medication that helps to prevent HIV transmission and promotes sexual health. Anyone can use it. There are no limits to using PrEP based on your gender or the gender(s) of your sexual partners. The only prerequisite to taking PrEP is that one must be HIV-negative. Beginning in 2014, NYSDOH strongly endorsed the use of PrEP as an evidence-based intervention to prevent HIV that is safe.
There are three types of PrEP approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA):
Truvada (TDF/FTC), Desovey (TAG/FTC), and Apretude (CAB LA). Truvada and Descovy are both oral medications and Apretude is an injectable medication. Taking Truvada daily is a proven method to effectively prevent HIV for cis-gender women and transgender men who have vaginal intercourse. Taking Truavada on-demand is an option for cisgender men who have sex with men who are planning to have at least 2 hours before they do. With this method, a user takes two pills at least 2 to 24 hours before sex. The user then takes a pill once a day for two days after they have had sex to reduce the likelihood of contracting HIV. Injectable PrEP (i.e., Apretude) is another option for cis-gender women and transgender men who have vaginal intercourse. When first starting Apretude, a user gets two injections one month apart, then moves to every 2 months for medication maintenance.
How can you get PrEP?
Talk with your healthcare provider to determine which PrEP medication is best for you. Your provider will discuss a dosing schedule with you as well. To be prescribed PrEP medication, a person must first be tested for sexually transmitted infections and HIV in particular. Set up an appointment with your provider to discuss PrEP and take charge of your sexual health.
What does it cost?
All insurance plans (except ones that are exempt) are required to provide PrEP coverage. When thinking about PrEP cost, one should consider medication itself, medical appointments, and lab tests. Some health insurance plans and Medicaid cover all the costs of PrEP. In NYS, the Department of Health offers a PrEP Assistance Program (PrEP-AP) to help cover any out-of-pocket cost.
Who is It for?
PrEP is for EVERY BODY. It is safe, effective, and approved for anyone over 12 years of age and weighs at least 77 pounds or more. Speaking with a healthcare provider can help you determine if PrEP is a good option for you.
What else is important to know?
Using PrEP only reduces your risk of contracting HIV if exposed. It is recommended to continue getting tested periodically to ensure you remain HIV-negative. We also recommend using a barrier method like external or internal condoms to decrease exposure to other STIs like gonorrhea, chlamydia, or syphilis. Learn more about PrEP at https://prepforsex.org/.