If you know about PrEP, then you know it's a great way to help prevent the transmission of HIV for HIV-negative people. Thanks to innovations in science and medicine, we can now help folks prevent getting HIV.
However, as with all medications, it's important to know if there are any side effects or risk of taking PrEP. In this blog, we're going to address those concerns. If you have questions about PrEP or would like to learn more about PrEP in general, you can click here.
Editor's Note: Information derived from Truvada.com.
So, are there any side effects when taking PrEP?
The majority of individuals who take PrEP do not experience any side effects. However, clinical studies did show there were some individuals who did experience side effects when taking PrEP. During these studies, the most common side effects were:
Headaches & dizziness
Abdominal pain & upset stomach
Around 1 in 10 users experience mild side effects such as nausea, headaches, weight loss, fatigue, or dizziness for the first few weeks of starting PrEP but these symptoms usually go away by themselves over time, usually 2-4 weeks.
Are there any serious side effects?
In some instances, PrEP can cause rare, but serious side effects. However, keep in mind many medications also have rare, but serious side effects. If you have concerns about PrEP's side effects, you should speak with your medical provider.
- Worsening of Hepatitis B: If you have Hepatitis B, PrEP may cause your condition to worsen. Make sure to tell your doctor if you have Hepatitis B, and any other medical conditions, before taking PrEP.
- Kidney problems: It is possible that PrEP can lead to kidney issues, including kidney failure. Your medical provider will likely do blood and urine tests to monitor your kidney function before and during PrEP.
- Bone problems: PrEP can lead to bone issues, including a decrease in bone density, or bone softening, thinning, or pain. Your medical provider may administer tests to monitor your bone health
- Severe liver problems, which can lead to death: Notify your medical provider immediately if you begin to have any of these symptoms: skin or the white part of your eyes turns yellow, dark "tea-colored" urine, light-colored stools, loss of appetite for several days or longer, nausea, or stomach-area pain.
- Too much lactic acid in your blood, which can lead to death: Notify your medical provider immediately if you begin to have any of these symptoms: weakness or being more tired than usual, unusual muscle pain, being short of breath or fast breathing, stomach pain with nausea and vomiting, cold or blue hands and feet, feel dizzy or lightheaded, or a fast or abnormal heartbeat.
Make sure you talk to your doctor about the following before going on PrEP
Before you start PrEP, it's important to have a conversation with your medical provider about your medical history. By addressing and notifying your medical provider of any issues, you can ensure that PrEP is the right option for you and that your health remains in top shape. Here's what you should bring up with your doctor:
- Any and all your health problems: Your doctor needs to know of any and all medical issues and conditions before giving you PrEP. Make sure you tell your medical provider if you have or have had any kidney, bone, or liver problems, including hepatitis.
- If you plan to become pregnant, or are pregnant: It is unknown if PrEP can affect an unborn baby. Be sure to tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to be before starting PrEP. Additionally, be sure to talk with your doctor if you are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed will on PrEP. HIV can also be transmitted to the nursing child through breastfeeding and breastmilk.
- All medicine you take: Tell your medical provider about any and all medications you are currently taken and have taken. This includes any over-the-counter prescriptions, vitamins, and herbal supplements. PrEP may interact with other medicines. Keep a list of all your medicines and show it to your healthcare provider and pharmacist when you get a new medicine. If you take other medication with PrEP, your medical provider may need to adjust or monitor your dosage. These medicines include certain medicines to treat hepatitis B or C infection.
How Apicha CHC can help you
At Apicha CHC, we are very proud of our viral load suppression rate for all our patients, the number of our patients on PrEP, and the number of people we get tested.
Our healthcare providers are specialists in HIV prevention, treatment, and care. If you come for testing and remain for care at our community health center, you will receive consistent treatment from a healthcare provider who can attend to all of your health needs including HIV.
There are three ways we can help:
1. HIV Testing
We provide completely confidential HIV testing services at Apicha CHC. To sign up for our HIV Testing services, click here and select HIV/STD testing from the drop down.
2. We can get you PrEP
If you become part of Apicha CHC's PrEP Program, you will be assigned a medical provider at Apicha CHC who will assess whether PrEP is right for you and will prescribe you Truvada as PrEP.
Our PrEP staff can also help you:
- Enroll in insurance or sign you up for special PrEP cost programs
- Set up your appointments
- Remind you when your pills are running out
- You can easily pick-up your prescription at Apicha CHC's brand new in-house pharmacy or you can use our free delivery service!
You can request an appointment to get started on PrEP here. Be sure to select appointment type as "Access to PrEP/PEP".
3. Become a part of our HIV Clinic
If you know you're HIV-positive and don't currently have a medical provider or aren't happy with the one you do have, feel free to become a part of the Apicha CHC family.
You can request an appointment here. Be sure to select appointment type as "Primary Medical Care".