WE LOVE YOU
First of all, we want to say thank you!
It can be fucking scary to talk to your provider about sexual health. Advocating for yourself to somebody with so much school and so many letters after their name is a daunting task.
But here's the good thing: you're doing it, and that's bad ass!
We've got some tips for you, and, most importantly, we're going to address some persistent myths among providers and patients. Let us tell you, there's lots of myths...
No, your teeth will not fall out from PrEP medications!
Having the conversation
Time to educate your provider
Chances are, you're already more prepared to talk to your provider about PrEP than they are. If you're lucky enough to have a provider familiar with the therapy, then this will be pretty easy.
Our number one suggestion is to be proud and confident of your decision to seek out sexual wellness. If your provider is uncomfortable, that is not your fault. In fact, it's a testament to you and your strength.
The truth is, PrEP is super effective and super safe, but our society has made sex scary to talk about. On top of that, your provider may not be familiar with prophylactic antivirals, so you may have to educate them.
Where might you run into some hurdles in getting your prescription? Here are some common myths.
"You need to see a specialist to go on PrEP."
Any provider can prescribe Truvada or Descovy (medications for PrEP).
While any provider can, they may not know the necessary steps. Coming in with some information for them can help expadite the process. Nobody wants to come back for another unnecessary appointment.
To start PrEP, your provider will need to check your HIV and Hep B status. For Truvada, your provider should also screen your creatinine levels to check your kidney health. We recommend asking for three site bacterial screening as well, cuz it's best to get a full picture of your health.
"We don't know the long-term effects of PrEP."
PrEP has been in general use since 2012. Hundreds of thousands of men have taken the drug with very few side effects. While a small number of patients experience discomfort [headaches, stomach aches] in the first week, these feelings quickly subside.
If you spend enough time on Instagram or Facebook, you've probably been beaten over the head with ads about PrEP class-action lawsuits. These are, in our humble opinion, dishonest and exploitative. Happy to discuss more, just shoot us an email to hear our takes.
"Only sluts need PrEP."
First of all, fuck that sex-shaming. You have sex with who you want (as long as there's consent), and don't let anybody tell you that's bad. Second of all, who the hell doesn't want to proactively protect themselves!?
Regardless of your number of partners, every person that takes PrEP is playing a roll in ending the epidemic and not only protecting themselves, but also protecting our communities.
"PrEP protects me against all STIs."
Sorry boys, girls, and gender-non-binaries, this one's on us, not our providers.
PrEP medications only prevent HIV infections. When we go rubbing our parts together with others, we can still get all those other bugaboos.
We've got strong opinions that PrEP is more than just taking a pill.
Absolutely take your meds, but we're also big advocates of using lube and—wait for it—talking to your partner. It might sound crazy, but setting expectations can actually lead to better sex!
There's one last myth we want to cover, and probably the most important.
"PrEP is too expensive."
Almost all insurance plans cover PrEP medications to some degree. Additionally, there are co-pay assistance programs that should bring those costs down to zero for most patients.
In fact, the US Preventive Services Task Force gave PrEP an A rating, meaning that in 2020, these drugs need to offered to patients at zero cost. Surely there will be some hiccups, but if you're concerned about cost, we've got you covered.
Also, patients should be aware that Obamacare requires insurers to cover STI testing. If you're concerned about costs here, talk to us or a health navigator about eliminating your lab costs.
One last thing we'd recommend bringing with you are the billing codes. This will reduce problems with insurance coverage. You can find recommendations for your provider here.
That was a lot of info, and we're quite sure you'll have more questions. We want to reiterate the most important point though. What you're doing is awesome. It's sexy. It's responsible. It's healthy.
When you take care of yourself, you're taking care of your community, and that is the most bad ass thing you can do! So thank you. We truly appreciate you progressing on your sexual wellness journey.
If you have more questions, San Francisco AIDS Foundation also has this really amazing FAQ.
Already have a prescription?
Who is a good candidate for PrEP?
There are CDC guidelines, but we think we can make it much simpler.
Are you having sex?
You should consider PrEP.
If you have more than one partner, talk to your provider about PrEP.
If you only have one partner and there's any chance that person has other partners, talk to your provider about PrEP.
Have more questions about PrEP or finding a prescriber?