Having sex? Protect yourself with PrEP.
Jason started using PrEP, a once daily pill to prevent HIV, after a very close call. He was new to town, lonely, and met a man who was both appealing and interested. Without conversation of any kind – including the important discussion about sexual safety – they had unprotected sex.
Three weeks later Jason learned that the man he had slept with was HIV positive. “The most hurtful thing about it was that he had contracted HIV from a man who did the same thing to him. That is just wrong.”
Jason tested negative for HIV and started taking PrEP. He now gets laboratory tests, counseling about reducing his health risks, and an HIV test every three months. He knows he dodged a bullet, and plans to stay free of HIV from now on, by taking PrEP every day.
If you are HIV-negative but worry about becoming HIV-positive, PrEP could be right for you
Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) is a medication for HIV-negative individuals to reduce their risk of becoming infected with HIV. Truvada, a tablet taken orally once daily, significantly reduces the chance of HIV infection after unprotected sex and other risky behaviors. PrEP is currently used to prevent HIV in sexually active men and women and in injection drug users. Those taking PrEP must have regular laboratory tests and an HIV test every three months.
Adherence to a daily routine of taking PrEP is the biggest factor that determines the efficacy of PrEP. It is most effective when taken daily and has minimal side effects. PrEP blocks HIV infection by stopping HIV replication. Those taking PrEP should also use safer sex practices and other prevention measures to reduce the risk of HIV infections.
Before being prescribed PrEP you will need to have an honest conversation with your health care provider to assess if you are a good candidate for PrEP and how often you will need to be tested for HIV and other STDs. There are ways to help you pay for PrEP if you need assistance. Click here to learn more.
If you've recently participated in high risk behavior, there are ways to protect yourself from HIV
Governor Cuomo’s newest End AIDS offering is allowing emergency medication ‘PEP’ to be dispensed by a registered pharmacist. PEP, or post-exposure prophylaxis, is utilized within 72 hours after an individual takes part in a high risk behavior, including unprotected sex with an HIV positive partner or the sharing of needles. The medication can prevent the replication and spread of HIV, even after exposure to the virus. The regimen is a combination of either 2 or 3 antiretroviral drugs that is dispensed and used for 28 days. If taken every day, HIV transmission is prevented in 81% of cases.
Currently, this medication can be dispensed to the public, but a doctor/emergency room visit is required. This new bill would allow a registered pharmacist to dispense PEP to any patients requesting it, similar to the Plan-B One Step emergency contraception. As of the start of this year, a pilot program has been initiated that allows certain pharmacies to dispense a 7 day supply of PEP. This allows patients to get started on treatment, and see a clinic later. If this program is successful, more and more pharmacies will be able to follow suit, saving money and reducing wait times to access the medication.
Through pharmacist driven administration of PEP, and the other strategies outlined by Governor Cuomo, ending AIDS in New York State is a feasible goal. The true impact of this bill will only be recognized as Mr. Cuomo’s plan and this pilot program progresses.
Written by: Matthew Crough, Pharmacy P2 Student
Updated by: Bryan Sherwood, Pharmacy P2 Student
Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences