Learn about PrEP

 

What is PrEP?


Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is an HIV prevention strategy where HIV-negative individuals take anti-HIV medications before coming into contact with HIV to reduce their risk of becoming infected. The medications work to prevent HIV from establishing infection inside the body.


How it Works


Descovy for PrEP provides 92%-99% reduction in HIV risk for HIV-negative individuals who take the pills every day as directed. If a daily dose is missed, the level of HIV protection may decrease. It only works if you take it. People who use PrEP correctly and consistently have higher levels of protection against HIV.

According to data analysis from the iPrEx study that found PrEP to be effective:

  • For people who take 7 PrEP pills per week, their estimated level of protection is 99%.
  • For people who take 4 PrEP pills per week, their estimated level of protection is 96%.
  • For people who take 2 PrEP pills per week, their estimated level of protection is 76%.

Model posing in front of corrugated wall
Two men embracing outdoors

There are not enough data available to provide specific timing guidance on non-daily use, so the FDA recommends PrEP be used daily to achieve the highest level of protection.

A few things to note:

  • When starting PrEP, it takes at least seven days to reach high levels of protection against HIV.
  • 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 (STI) or pregnancy. It is not a cure for HIV.

How it Works


Descovy for PrEP provides 92%-99% reduction in HIV risk for HIV-negative individuals who take the pills every day as directed. If a daily dose is missed, the level of HIV protection may decrease. It only works if you take it. People who use PrEP correctly and consistently have higher levels of protection against HIV.

According to data analysis from the iPrEx study that found PrEP to be effective:

  • For people who take 7 PrEP pills per week, their estimated level of protection is 99%.
  • For people who take 4 PrEP pills per week, their estimated level of protection is 96%.
  • For people who take 2 PrEP pills per week, their estimated level of protection is 76%.

Model posing in front of corrugated wall

There are not enough data available to provide specific timing guidance on non-daily use, so the FDA recommends PrEP be used daily to achieve the highest level of protection.

A few things to note:

  • When starting PrEP, it takes at least seven days to reach high levels of protection against HIV.
  • 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 (STI) or pregnancy. It is not a cure for HIV.

Two men embracing outdoors
 

Side Effects


Descovy for PrEP is generally safe and well tolerated. Most people on PrEP report experiencing no side effects, but some side effects were reported in clinical trials. Participants in the iPrEx study reported side effects that fall into four main categories (ordered here as most to least common):

  • Nausea: 9% of those who received Descovy reported nausea in the first month, compared with 5% of those who received placebo. After the first month, there was no difference in reported rates of nausea among those who received Descovy and those who received placebo.
  • Headaches: 4.5% of participants who received Descovy reported headaches, compared with 3.3% of those who received placebo.
  • Weight loss: 2.2% of those who received Descovy reported unintentional weight loss of more than 5%, compared with 1.1% of placebo users
  • Small increases in serum creatinine: Descovy is known to cause small increases in serum creatinine, a naturally occurring molecule filtered by the kidneys. In this study, 0.3% of those who received Descovy experienced mild increases in serum creatinine that persisted until the next test. Creatinine levels went back down once these participants stopped taking PrEP. Four of the five participants restarted PrEP without recurrence of the creatinine increase. Investigators monitored kidney function throughout the study and found no serious problems.

For most people, these side effects went away on their own after the first few weeks of taking Descovy, or when the medication was stopped.

Access


With Q Care+ you can consult securely online with a licensed physician and complete all required PrEP lab testing at home. Insurance or no insurance, we got you covered. That’s right, your online consultation, labs, STI testing and medication can be free.


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The information on this page is attributed to https://prepfacts.org/prep/the-basics/.