PrEP stands for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis. It is a once-daily pill regimen that can help you stay HIV-negative. When taken as prescribed, PrEP has been shown to be safe and highly effective against contracting HIV. While PrEP does not protect against other sexually transmitted infections or unwanted pregnancy, it can be paired with condoms and several other prevention strategies for additional protection.
Before Your Visit
- Find a knowledgeable health care provider in your area. It may be worthwhile to seek out a healthcare provider who is knowledgeable about LGBTQ health and/or HIV and AIDS, since many health practitioners are still unaware of or misinformed about PrEP. You might start with the Gay Lesbian Medical Association’s provider directory or a LGBTQ-friendly clinic such as Planned Parenthood.
- Learn more about PrEP. There are several resources available online to help you develop a better understanding of PrEP and its role in HIV prevention, including HRC’s What Do I Do? A Handbook to Understanding Health & HIV.
- Make a health history list. Putting this list together, including past illnesses or concerns, current allergies, and current medications, can be very helpful.
- Make sure a translator is available. If you speak a language other than English, you may want to see if the provider has translators available or if you can bring someone along to translate.
During Your Visit
- Be clear. Tell your provider early on that you’re interested in PrEP and would like to discuss whether it makes sense for you to use it.
- Be forthcoming. In order to help you make the most informed decision possible, you should be forthcoming with your provider about your health and wellness. This includes telling them about behaviors that may have increased your chances of contracting HIV. Rest assured that anything you disclose to your provider is confidential.
- Ask questions. Do not be afraid to interrupt your provider to ask a clarifying question. It will help you stay present and engaged in the conversation.
- Take notes. This can help you remember what was discussed after leaving the provider’s office.
After Your Visit
- Review. Read your notes and any other educational materials the provider may have given you.
- Weigh your options. There are many ways to prevent yourself from contracting HIV. PrEP is one option that may or may not be right for you. You may want to hear from others on PrEP to help you make a decision.
- Ask questions. Call your provider if you have any follow-up questions. You may want to speak to a nurse if your provider is unavailable.
- Follow-up on results. If you had blood work or other laboratory tests done during your initial visit, be sure to review your results when they come in.
- Explore payment options. Most private insurance plans cover PrEP, as do state Medicaid programs. However, access to PrEP may vary from state to state. If you have insurance, you may want to call your insurance company to see if a prescription for PrEP requires pre-authorization. They can also walk you through relevant copay and deductible information. If you are uninsured or underinsured, you may want to explore payment assistance programs, which may significantly reduce your out-of-pocket expenses.
Speak to your provider today if you feel you may be a good candidate for PrEP.