Usage of the Drug Protects You, But What About the Long Game?
I remember visiting some friends in San Francisco, and they were surprised that I wasn’t taking PrEP like they were. Sexual health is a big issue and none bigger in the community than the topic of AIDS and HIV. They aren’t the death sentence they used to be, but it still involves a major life change.
I know my friends were looking out for me. So, I did some research, found a program, and started my prescription with the drug. I’m three months in and about to start my next prescription. However, I’ve looked into the long term side effects, and they aren’t anything to sneeze about.
But as a “healthy individual,” does this extra protection against HIV infection outweigh the possible health problems in my future? Am I bargaining safer sex for a different physical issue?
So, What is PrEP?
PrEP is Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis. Basically, a treatment before coming into contact with the virus. It reduces your risk of contracting HIV from sexual encounters or any encounter where you may be exposed to an infected fluid. This is the only sexually transmitted infection it works to prevent.
Studies have shown that this prevention method works across the board. Gay and bisexual men, heterosexual men and women, and injection drug users can all benefit from its protection. If you have a risk of getting HIV, then this is for you.
The particular drug used is called Truvada or FTC/TDF. It’s FDA approved, and it has been in use for about seven years now.
If you take it as prescribed (one pill a day), then your risk of becoming infected with HIV is reduced by 99%.
Sounds great, right?
Are There Long Term Changes?
So, down to the nitty-gritty. My research brought up that in the future, PrEP users can expect a change in their kidney function and/or bone mineral density. PrEP long term use can lead down some slippery roads.
Currently, there is no fact sheet telling us what will happen to “healthy” individuals taking PrEP over the course of years. We do know that HIV infected individuals have the aforementioned health concerns, but at this time, we just don’t have enough research, because the drug is too new.
My personal interactions, in this case, have been hopeful. The medical professionals that prescribe me Truvada are also monitoring my kidneys for changes every three months. I assume they are taking adequate precautions with my bone density as well.
How Can You Get PrEP?
So, like me, you’re on board with this idea. You acquire an HIV preventative medication for peace of mind.
Your first step is to talk to your doctor and, of course, check with your insurance provider to see if they cover this. Financially, speaking, the drug can get expensive with costs of up to $2000. If your doctor approves you for this, you’ll start the process by taking an HIV test along with others to get your health baseline. It’s important to know your HIV status in general, but more so when starting PrEP.
After this, your medical professional should get you going in the right direction. We trust them for these reasons.
Another option is participating in a program. The Gilead program has been an absolute godsend for me. Medicaid can help, but it differs across state lines. If you’re lucky enough to live in San Francisco like my friends, Healthy San Francisco offers assistance.
After your tests are cleared, you’ll pick up your medication or have it shipped to you. Starting the drug, you are cautioned to expect mild nausea.
Let’s face it. When you’re caught up in the moment, sometimes it’s hard to think clearly enough to protect yourself. Using PrEP significantly reduces your risk of getting HIV, and the life-altering changes that come with it. Your personal health care has to be a high priority on all fronts: past, present, and future. At this point, the pros of using PrEP outweigh the unknown cons.
EZ.Insure is there for you should you want to change your health plan by upgrading or need to look into getting one on your own. If this drug sounds good to you, talk to your agent about its coverage in your current healthcare plan. They’re there for you to make sure you (and your wallet) stay healthy.