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How Does PrEP for HIV Prevention Work?

Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is an HIV drug that works by creating “walls” around CD4 white blood cells, also known as T-cells. CD4 cells are responsible for coordinating your body’s immune response and organizing protection against harmful invaders. HIV normally works by tricking these cells, sometimes leading to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). By fortifying CD4 cells, PrEP makes it significantly more challenging for the HIV virus to breach and corrupt your immune system.  

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Does PrEP Prevent HIV?

PrEP is highly effective at preventing HIV. According to the CDC, PrEP reduces the risk of contracting HIV from sex by 99% when taken as prescribed. There is less information available on contracting HIV from needle injections however, the CDC estimates PrEP is 74% effective at preventing HIV from drug injections. Keep in mind, PrEP is not for individuals who have already contracted HIV, it is for repeated daily use to prevent HIV. Importantly, PrEP reaches maximum effective after 7 days of daily treatment for anal sex and 21 days for vaginal sex and injection drug use.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does PrEP for HIV Prevention cost?

PrEP would cost you about $20,000 per year if you paid out of pocket. Fortunately, most health insurance covers the cost of PrEP, so a majority of people pay little to nothing for the medication. Medicaid and Medicare also cover PrEP, but be aware, you may be on the hook for the initial doctor’s visit on these plans. If you don’t have insurance, there are still ways for you to afford PrEP. Gilead, the makers of PrEP, offers a Medication Copay Assistance Program designed to help those without insurance pay for the medication.

What are the side effects of PrEP for HIV Prevention?

The most common side effects of PrEP include headache, nausea, vomiting, rash, and loss of appetite. However, most patients report little to no side effects from the medication.

What are the PrEP usage guidelines?

Using PrEP is simple: take one oral pill everyday at the same time. This will ensure your body has maximum levels of prediction from HIV 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Keep in mind, it takes a week of daily use for PrEP to reach maximum effectiveness for anal sex. Likewise, it takes 21 days of daily use for you to safely engage in vaginal sex.

Can you get HIV from someone on PrEP?

Generally speaking, someone on PrEP is not at risk of transmitting HIV. When someone is taking PrEP, their body is a terrible host for the HIV virus. This means their risk of contracting and transmitting HIV to a partner is incredibly low. 

How can I get PrEP online?

EverydayDr is a proud partner of PlushCare, one of the largest online PrEP providers in the US. PlushCare’s online platform makes it easy to connect with a doctor from the comfort of your own home. At your appointment, ask your doctor if PrEP is right for you. They’ll help you weigh your risk of exposure, walk you through your options to pay for the medication, and help you get the medication you need. Because PrEP only works as a preventative measure for HIV, it’s best not to wait. Get started by booking your online appointment today. 

See a doctor online in 3 easy steps:

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Step 1

Pick a Doctor

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Step 2

Book an appointment

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Step 3

Get your prescription

Pick up your medication from your local pharmacy.

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