Learn More About PrEP

PrEP information southwest center hiv phoenix

Here are some fast facts about PrEP:

  • PrEP is a once-a-day medication to prevent HIV.

  • PrEP is for people who are HIV-negative but are at high risk of becoming infected.

  • PrEP is only intended to prevent — not treat — HIV.

  • PrEP has been proven to be very effective at preventing HIV if taken as prescribed.

  • PrEP must be prescribed by a doctor or medical provider. The PrEP Guys can help you find one, and the Southwest Center’s clinic can prescribe PrEP!

  • PrEP doesn’t protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) so you’ll need to use another method of protection to protect against STIs like chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis.

Got questions? The PrEP Guys can help at NO COST!

The PrEP Guys southwest center hiv phoenix

The Southwest Center’s PrEP Guys are PrEP experts, and they are here for you! The PrEP Guys can:

  • Answer all your questions about PrEP.

  • Help you figure out how to pay for PrEP, navigate insurance coverage, and apply for co-pay or prescription assistance programs.

  • Help you set up PrEP medical appointments.

Contact the PrEP Guys using the form at the bottom of the page to learn more or to set up a free PrEP appointment!

Frequently Asked Questions

+ Why do I need PrEP?

PrEP may be a good option for you if…

  • you’re having anal sex and you don’t always use condoms, you are the bottom or “vers,” or you have multiple anonymous partners.

  • you have an HIV-positive partner.

  • you’re in an open relationship, have sex outside of a relationship or suspect your partner is having sex outside of the relationship. It’s reported that over 30% of new HIV infections happen within a self-reported “monogamous relationship”.

  • you inject drugs and share needles (even if they’re only shared occasionally).

+ How effective is PrEP?

When taken consistently, PrEP has been shown to reduce the risk of HIV infection in people who are at high risk by up to 92%. PrEP is much less effective if it is not taken consistently. It takes 7-21 days for effective levels of PrEP to build up in your body.

In a recent Kaiser Permanente Medical Center study in San Francisco, researchers followed over 600 gay men for 2.5 years who were consistently taking PrEP. ZERO HIV infections were reported from the men participating in that study.

Read more about this real-world study here.

+ How does PrEP work?

To understand how PrEP works, let’s first start with a quick understanding of how HIV medications work in someone who is HIV positive:

A person living with HIV takes at least three or four HIV drugs called “Combination Antiretroviral Therapy” that work together to keep the virus from replicating. These medications don’t attack the virus directly, but play a defensive role to halt the virus from finding new immune cells and replicating itself in the body.

A similar thing happens with PrEP, a single pill named Truvada that is taken once-a-day. When an HIV-negative person takes PrEP, it plays that same type of defensive role inside your cells – preventing HIV from establishing an infection in the body. If HIV exposure happens to a person taking PrEP, the virus is unable to find a way to replicate itself inside the body – preventing an HIV infection.

+ Are there any side effects?

A few people in clinical studies of PrEP had early side effects such as an upset stomach or loss of appetite, but these were mild and usually went away in the first month. Some people also had a mild headache. No serious side effects were observed. You should tell your health care provider if these or other symptoms become severe or do not go away.

+ Does PrEP mean I don’t need to use condoms?

While PrEP or condoms aren’t 100% effective at preventing HIV, PrEP can offer you a layer of protection in those instances where you may already be struggling to use condoms consistently.

You’ll get the most protection from HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases if you consistently take PrEP and use condoms during sex. PrEP does not protect you from other STIs like gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis. If you are infected with an STI, PrEP may not be as effective since STIs can create an open door for HIV to enter the body. Your provider will test you regularly for HIV and STIs to help you maintain your sexual health.

+ Can I just use PrEP when I’m having sex?

No. PrEP must be taken every day to give the best protection against HIV.

Think of it in the same context as birth control pills that also have to be taken daily in order to prevent pregnancy. PrEP needs to be strong and active in your system in order to provide the best protection against HIV. All available research shows PrEP’s effectiveness declines greatly if it is not taken consistently, so intermittent use is NOT recommended. PrEP must be taken every day to give the best protection against HIV.

+ Will people think I’m a whore or having risky sex if I take PrEP?

People think a lot of things about a lot of people. Who cares? A person’s decision to take PrEP is a very personal decision, not anyone else’s. It’s an investment in your sexual health – and we think that’s worth celebrating!

From being called “Truvada Whores” to slut-shaming, people seeking to take control of their sexual health can face stigma from friends, family, and even doctors about using PrEP. Using PrEP doesn’t mean a person will increase their sexual risks, but it does mean they have made an informed decision to add a layer of protection to avoid HIV infection. No one needs to know you take this pill each day except you and your doctor – or – take a stand on stigma, snap a selfie and tag us (#PHXPrEPGUYS) in your post!!

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