NEW YORK, NY, UNITED STATES, August 10, 2023/EINPresswire.com/ — Pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, is a type of medication that can help prevent the development of HIV. But there are a lot of common questions and misconceptions around PrEP: Is it for everyone? Is PrEP safe? And how effective is it? Dr. Kamila Seilhan, Board-Certified Internist and Medical Director of LabFinder.com, an online scheduling platform for patient laboratory and radiology appointments, answers the top 10 questions about PrEP. HIV testing is available from LabFinder.
1. Is PrEP effective at preventing HIV?
“The short answer is definitively yes. When taken as prescribed, PrEP reduces the risk of contracting HIV through sex by 99%. There’s less information about people who are at risk of contracting HIV through needle sharing, but for this group PrEP appears to be at least 74% effective, which is still very significant,” said Dr. Seilhan.
2. If someone thinks they’ve just been exposed to HIV, should they start PrEP?
“This is a common misconception about PrEP,” Dr. Seilhan explained. “PrEP is a preventative measure that needs to be taken regularly and before exposure in order to be effective. It’s not for occasional or one-time use,” she added.
3. Is PrEP safe to use?
“Again, the answer here is unequivocally yes. Studies have found no significant negative effects in people who have maintained a PrEP regimen for five years. Of course, like any medication, there’s always a potential for some side effects, but they’re generally mild for most people” Dr. Seilhan said.
Some of the side effects someone might have from PrEP include:
• Stomach pain
4. Who is a good candidate for PrEP?
“PrEP is for people with an elevated risk for contracting HIV. Those who aren’t regularly engaging in higher-risk activities don’t need to take PrEP. That being said, only about 10% of the worldwide population who would benefit from PrEP are currently taking these drugs according to the WHO,” said Dr. Seilhan.
Someone should consider PrEP if they’re HIV-negative and meet any of the following criteria:
• has a sexual partner who has HIV
• has sex without consistently using condoms
• diagnosed with an STD in the last 6 months
• shares needles or drug injection materials
• has an injection partner who has HIV
5. Does PrEP prevent all STIs?
“This is another common misconception, and it’s important for people to know that the answer is no. PrEP only helps to prevent HIV. Other STIs—like syphilis and gonorrhea—are not prevented by PrEP, and people who take PrEP medications should still use condoms to protect themselves from these other infections,” said Dr. Seilhan.
6. What PrEP medications are approved by the FDA?
“There are a few different options here. Some will work better for different people depending on individual preferences as well as limitations of the medications themselves, but there are options for everyone,” said Dr. Seilhan.
Truvada is a medication that is effective for everyone. It contains tenofovir disoproxil plus either emtricitabine or lamivudine, and there are generic versions available.
Descovy is another medication that contains tenofovir disoproxil and emtricitabine as well as alafenamide. This medication is effective for men and for transgender women. For people assigned female at birth who are at risk of contracting HIV through receptive vaginal sex, Descovy should not be used. There is no generic version at this time.
Vocabria is a drug that contains cabotegravir. This is a drug used to treat HIV but can also be used for PrEP on a short-term basis. There is no generic version at this time.
Apretude is the final PrEP drug currently approved for use in the United States. It also contains cabotegravir but is for long-term use. There is no generic version at this time.
7. How are PrEP medications taken?
“Apretude is an injection that you get at your healthcare provider’s office, and it’s effective for two months. The other medications are all daily oral tablets. It’s important to remember to take these at the same time every day, not only after a potential HIV exposure,” Dr. Seilhan said.
8. What about the PrEP ring?
“Dapivirine is a microbicidal vaginal ring that’s used for PrEP in some African countries, but it has not been approved by the FDA. While some studies have found it to be effective and without serious side effects, it’s not currently being considered by the FDA and isn’t likely to be available in the US anytime soon,” Dr. Seilhan said.
9. What if a dose is missed?
“If one of the pills gets missed, the best thing to do is take it as soon as you realize it and then get back onto the normal schedule. If it’s getting close to the next time to take it when you remember, just take one at the normal time—don’t double up. If someone is going to miss an injection, they should talk to their healthcare provider to come up with a plan,” Dr. Seilhan advised.
10. Is PrEP covered by insurance?
“Under the Affordable Care Act, PrEP is required to be covered by nearly all insurance plans. For people without insurance, there are several assistance programs available, and there are details on the CDC’s website,” said Dr. Seilhan.
Bio: Kamila Seilhan DO is a New York City-based internal medicine specialist who has been in practice for more than 20 years. She is board-certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine. In addition to her practice, she serves as medical director of LabFinder.com.
About: LabFinder is a consumer-facing platform that transforms the patient experience through seamless lab & radiology testing3, guiding patients to conveniently located testing centers, handling appointment bookings, offering telehealth services, and allowing patients to review their test results all in one place. LabFinder supports patients through their care journey from booking to billing—reducing expenses, hurdles, and frustrations. www.labfinder.com.