Dr. Demetre: A question that I hear a lot is, “How do I get on PrEP? What’s the process for getting on the drug?”
Dr. David: Got questions about PrEP? #AskTheHIVDoc has all the answers.
Dr. Demetre: So the very first step is finding a doctor. In theory, that should be straightforward. Um, any doctor can prescribe PrEP, in fact, many other medical providers – nurse practitioners, physicians’ assistants, anyone who can prescribe medicines – can prescribe PrEP. Once you find a doctor or a provider who can give you PrEP, go there and talk to them about sex. Be honest about what you do. If you don’t use condoms, don’t be ashamed that you don’t use condoms. Say, “I don’t use condoms, and I want to go on PrEP.” That’s really important. That honesty is what triggers the whole conversation. I tell you, in my practice, when I see my patients, people who come to me and tell me that, we have a completely different relationship from then on out. We talk about sex honestly, we talk about drug use, alcohol, all of it. So, you set the stage, and when you find that doctor, you say, “This is what I need.” So what’s going to happen then is, they’re going to do their doctor thing, and go into the pattern of, “Come back and see me, get some lab work done, very important, get an HIV test before you start PrEP, it needs to be negative.” Then you can start it. You come back every three months, you get an HIV test. If it’s negative, you stay on PrEP. If you’re on PrEP, and you’re taking it every day, that HIV test is going to stay negative, but you’ve got to see if with your eyes and hear it with your ears to know that you can stay on PrEP. So bottom line is, you come in, you get tested, they watch for some stuff in your blood, they make sure you don’t have HIV, and they keep writing the prescription, and you stay HIV negative.
Interested in starting the HIV prevention pill? Dr. Demetre takes you step-by-step through the process, from setting up your first appointment to bringing home PrEP.
Any medical professional who prescribes medications, including doctors and nurse practitioners, may prescribe PrEP. If you don’t have a regular healthcare provider or they don’t know about or are reluctant to prescribe PrEP, there are organizations across the country that specialize in helping people get on PrEP. Click here to find a PrEP-friendly provider near you.