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You’ve got questions? We’ve got answers!

October 30, 2020

At Evergreen, we are committed to providing the most up-to-date HIV education and prevention services. That’s why we love PrEP! When taken daily, PrEP greatly reduces your risk of becoming HIV positive. It’s normal to have questions about medications, especially when related to prevention. People sometimes feel uncomfortable inquiring about PrEP so we decided to open the floor to some of our most asked questions to help you determine: to PrEP or Not to PrEP?

How does it work?

PrEP is not a vaccine, so its performance is heavily dependent on taking the medication daily. It’s an antiretroviral drug that can block HIV from taking hold and spreading in your body. If you don’t take it every day, there might not be enough medication in your bloodstream to stop the virus from spreading in your body.

And it actually works to prevent HIV?

PrEP greatly reduces the risk of getting HIV when taken daily. Most people encounter HIV from sex or drug use. According to the Center for Disease Control, those who inject drugs with a needle previously used by a person living with HIV will have a 74% reduced risk of transmission. People who have sex with a person living with HIV will have a 99% reduced risk of acquiring HIV. Those are some good numbers!

Does it block other STIs?

It does not. Those using only PrEP are still at risk for sexually transmitted infections, hepatitis C and pregnancy. Condoms, when used properly, are a great barrier when having sex. Evergreen provides free condoms to anyone who would like them.

How safe is PrEP?

PrEP is very safe. The side effects patients report have generally been pretty mild and were resolved within a short time. Your medical provider will discuss any concerns about side effects with you.

Does PrEP hurt your kidneys?

Like many medications, PrEP is processed through your kidneys. Before going on PrEP, your doctor at Evergreen will make sure your kidneys are functioning well and will continue to monitor this while you are taking PrEP.

Is PrEP only for gay men?

Absolutely not. PrEP is for anyone, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity. Most people who take PrEP do so because they participate in activities that could put them at risk for becoming HIV positive. These include:

  • Having sex with multiple and/or anonymous partners
  • Having sex regularly or sometimes without a condom
  • Being unsure of your sex partners’ HIV status
  • Having recently been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection
  • Using injection and/or mood-altering drugs (examples include methamphetamine, cocaine and ecstasy)

Your provider will be happy to talk to you about your unique situation and help you determine if PrEP is right for you.

How is PrEP different from PEP?

PrEP, also known as pre-exposure prophylaxis, is taken daily to prevent HIV. PEP, or post-exposure prophylaxis, is taken after possible exposure to HIV. It is used in emergency situations and must be started within 72 hours after a possible exposure to HIV.

Is PrEP covered by insurance?

Most patients who see an Evergreen provider and use our pharmacy pay $0 out of pocket for their medication! Our financial counseling center is also a great resource for people who are uninsured or underinsured. We want our patients to live their healthiest life, so we work hard to get them the medication they need.

Do I have to use the Evergreen Pharmacy?

Many people choose to use the Evergreen Pharmacy because it’s on-site with our medical services in Buffalo. It’s convenient for patients and the pharmacists have a great relationship with our primary and specialty care staff. The Evergreen Pharmacy also specializes in HIV treatment and prevention medication so our pharmacists are qualified to answer questions regarding PrEP. They make it a priority to keep these medications in stock so you don’t have to wait for your prescription. You can read more about our pharmacy here.

Also, you don’t have to be an Evergreen patient to use the Evergreen Pharmacy. It’s open to the community. We offer free and confidential delivery, as well.

If I decide to go on PrEP, will anyone know?

Only the people you share that information with will know. Evergreen and the Evergreen Pharmacy offer confidential service and we do not disclose your health information to anyone, unless you would like us to. Your medication and service are kept private. Evergreen is a safe and judgment-free space. We are proud of you for making positive changes to your health goals.

How do I set up an appointment to discuss PrEP?

Give us a call at 716-847-2441 and we can schedule an appointment. It’s that easy!