PrEP & PEP

Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP)

New London Specialty Pharmacy PrEP services Q&A:

1.      What is PrEP?

a. PrEP is an acronym for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, preventing infection or disease. PrEP practices, are when negative HIV patients use anti-HIV medication to prevent them from contracting HIV. PrEP practices lower your chances to becoming HIV infected.

2.      Who should practice PrEP?

a. Persons at risk for being HIV exposed during sexual interaction and/or injection drug use. The CDC recommends that people who are currently HIV negative and at substantial risk for HIV infection should consider taking PrEP. This includes MSM, who frequently have sex without condoms or who are in a sexual relationship with an HIV-infected partner. http://www.cdc.gov/msmhealth/HIV.htm

3.      Where can I get PrEP?

a. You must see a healthcare professional to obtain a prescription for PrEP drug: TRUVADA. Your doctor will first determine your HIV negative status by performing blood tests, before prescribing PrEP.
Truvada is the only FDA approved drug for PrEP services. (see other uses for drug on website)

New London Specialty Pharmacy, 877.738.7987, will fill your PrEP prescription within minutes and you can start therapy immediately.
See our clinical staff today, for help with local PrEP providers and/or clinics.

4.      How is Truvada for PrEP taken?

a. In order for PrEP to work, you must take Truvada, one tablet daily, every day.

5.      Will my insurance cover PrEP services?

a. Most insurances cover PrEP services. However, if your insurance does not, GILEAD Truvada’s manufacturer, offers patient assistance programs as well as copay assistance.

Still unsure if PrEP is right for you? Please call our clinical team today and we can help you find a local PrEP provider.  We are open Monday thru Friday 9 am to 6 pm and have an on call 24/7 pharmacist.

Other useful links:

PEP: Post-Exposure Prophylaxis

New London Specialty Pharmacy PEP services Q&A:

1. What is PEP?

a. PEP, or post-exposure prophylaxis, involves the use of antiretroviral medications in order to try and prevent the HIV from taking hold in the body after a potential exposure.  The medication regimen needs to be initiated within 72 hours of the incident, although sooner is better. Two to three medications are usually prescribed, and must be taken continuously for 28 days after initiation.

2. Is PEP always effective against HIV infection?

a. PEP regimens are not 100% effective, but they do significantly reduce the chances of becoming infected with HIV when taken correctly. Treatment is most effective when initiated within one to two hours of exposure.

3. Is PEP right for me?

a. PEP should be used if you have experienced any of the following:

  1. Unprotected anal or vaginal sex with someone who is HIV positive or someone whose HIV status is unknown (including cases of rape or sexual assault, or incidents where the condom slipped off or broke)
  2. Sharing needles (such as those used for tattoos, hormones, or drug use) with someone who is HIV positive or someone whose status is unknown
  3. Healthcare workers exposed to the blood or bodily fluids of an HIV-infected patient

It is important to note that the source patient should be tested for HIV if their status is not already known to be positive - if the source patient undergoes a rapid HIV test and is HIV negative, then PEP is not required since there is no chance of HIV transmission.

4. What are the medications used in a PEP regimen?

a. A typical PEP regimen consists of the following medications: Truvada once daily (containing tenofovir 300mg and emtricitabine 200mg), with optional Isentress (raltegravir 400mg) twice daily.  However, there may be other options depending on the particular strain of HIV that the patient was exposed to, so it's a good idea to contact your pharmacy or healthcare provider to get the best advice.

5. How do PEP medications work?

a.  Truvada (tenofovir/emtricitabine) is a combination of two drugs that prevent the virus from replicating and increasing in number in your body. Isentress (raltegravir) prevents HIV from integrating into healthy cells.

6. What are the side effects from PEP medications?

a.  Side effects from these medications are not life-threatening and can often be treated. Some of the side effects associated with short-term use of these medications include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, and headache. It is important to keep taking your medications every day even if you are experiencing side effects - talk to your pharmacist or doctor to see how you can lessen these effects if you experience them.

7. When will I know if the medications have worked?

a.  A rapid HIV test should be given at the time that PEP is initiated, followed by further HIV testing at 1, 3, and 6 months after exposure. A negative HIV test at six months indicates that you have not become infected with HIV.

8. Can I use PEP for every risky HIV exposure?

a.  PEP is not recommended for frequent use, especially if you at ongoing risk for HIV exposure. If you find that you are frequently at risk for HIV exposure (such as having condomless sex with a partner who is HIV positive), talk to your doctor about PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis). However, it is best to always practice safe sex and avoid sharing needles.

9. Where can I find more information regarding PEP?

a. In addition to calling your doctor or pharmacist, you can take a look at the following webpages:

Centers for Disease Control's webpage on PEP : http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/basics/pep.html
HIV guidelines on PEP: http://www.hivguidelines.org/
HIV guidelines for healthcare workers with occupational exposure: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr5409a1.htm
World Health Organization's webpage about PEP: http://www.who.int/hiv/topics/prophylaxis/en/

National HIV Testing Resources: www.hivtest.org

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