Answered! Your Most Commonly Asked Questions About PrEP for HIV Prevention
DAP Talks Season 1, Episode 2
Hi there. My name is Andy Ansell, and I am the PrEP Program Manager here at Desert AIDS Project. I’ve been asked to talk to you today regarding PrEP and to answer some of the most frequently asked questions pertaining to PrEP. First let me just talk about what PrEP is.
PrEP stands for pre-exposure prophylaxis and is the name of an HIV prevention intervention. We’re trying to prevent somebody from acquiring HIV, pre-exposure. So before they’ve even been exposed to HIV, we want them to be protected against it. We do that by prescribing an individual medication, and they take one pill once a day to prevent HIV infection. A commonly asked question is, how does it work? The medications that we’ve prescribed for PrEP are called antiretroviral medication. They prevent HIV from replicating. So, they interrupt HIV in its replication process and therefore, HIV can’t replicate. It can’t cause an HIV infection.
So that’s basically how PrEP works. Another commonly asked question is, how well does it work? In other words, how well does it protect against HIV? Here at DAP, we have endorsed a 99.9% effective rating for PrEP as it pertains to preventing HIV infection. Prior to PrEP, the only tool that we had to give people to prevent HIV infection were condoms. Condoms are still a great tool for preventing HIV infection. However, if you compare those two interventions side by side, overall for effectiveness, condoms, when used consistently come in at about 90% effective and PrEP use consistently comes in at 99.9% effective. Another commonly asked question pertaining to PrEP is, how much does it cost? Well, that’s a very difficult question to answer just outright for everyone.
PrEP Navigators help people understand how much PrEP will cost. Our goal for anybody who comes to DAP for PrEP navigation services is to get them PrEP for no cost or as little cost as possible. And it really depends on a few things. It depends on what type of healthcare coverage an individual has, and it depends on the income level and type that an individual has. There are a number of supportive programs out there that will help pay the cost of PrEP and for the medical care needed for somebody on PrEP. Here at DAP, 98% of the time, we’re able to dispense PrEP, at least the medication, at no cost and perhaps just a slight cost for the actual medical care needed.
Another commonly question is, how do I get it? You start out getting an appointment with a medical provider, either through your primary care provider or your PCP, or here at DAP through our sexual health clinic. We provide all the medical care necessary here onsite.
An initial PrEP appointment at DAP without any type of assistance is a $125. And what is covered in that is the doctor’s visit, meeting with the clinician, all the required lab tests that are necessary in order to get PrEP, and the prescription itself—all of that is included in the $125. For anybody who goes on PrEP at DAP, our medical protocol is that you have a medical appointment once every three months with routine lab tests.
A routine follow-up appointment every three months is $25, unless you qualify for certain assistance programs.
For many patients at DAP, we can help them sign up for programs that help them access PrEP for free. If you want to get more information, or if you want to schedule an appointment to speak with a PrEP Navigator who can go over all of this information for you, visit our website at daphealth.org. You can click to make an appointment with one of our knowledgeable PrEP Navigators here on site. We’re always here and happy to answer any questions that you might have. So please reach out to us. We’re happy to help. Thanks. Take care and stay safe.