Before you know it, summer will be here (it kind of already is). That means vacation and traveling! Whether you’re having fun in the sun, hiking vast mountain trails, or zip-lining through jungles, it’s important your PrEP routine stays the same.
In this blog, we’ll offer some best practices to help you stay on top of your PrEP game, no matter where you go or what you do. With summer in session, it is vital you take care of your health and maintain your PrEP regimen.
Best Practices for PrEP
- Set a reminder: You may be traveling to different time zones or busy catching up with family. So make sure you set an alarm or reminder to take your PrEP at the right time. You can use your phone or download an app to help you.
- Be mindful of drinking: If you’re drinking alcohol, especially while traveling, be mindful of your drinking. It’s best to take your PrEP several hours before you start drinking – you may forget after a couple glasses of wine.
- Plan ahead: Before you leave for vacation, make sure you plan ahead for your PrEP. Do you have enough PrEP for your trip? Is there a pharmacy where you’re traveling to, in case you need anything? Be sure to ask yourself these questions several weeks before traveling, so you can enjoy our time off stress-free.
- Make sure you have your supply: Take a look at your calendar, and make sure you have enough PrEP to last you before, during, and after your trip. You want to be prepared!
- Time your doctor’s visit: If you're at the end of your third PrEP refill and need to visit your provider at Apicha CHC before you travel, be sure to schedule an appointment in advance. If you are unable to schedule a visit before you leave, Apicha CHC does its best to assess your needs by obtaining a vacation override for a PrEP prescription. However, it isn’t guaranteed you’ll get a prescription without monitoring labs. We can assist with vacation overrides when you have existing prescriptions, but it also depends on your insurance plan. Some insurance plans might not offer vacation overrides within 24 hours, or at all. So in order to avoid that last-minute anxiety, schedule an appointment with us a few weeks before your trip.
- Keep condoms with you: If you’re sexually active, always make sure you’re protected. Even if you’re on PrEP, be sure to have condoms on hand with you. For example, if you lose your PrEP and don’t have access to a pharmacy, using a condom is your next best option. And, make sure your condoms aren’t expired or broken!
- Get tested: If you had unprotected sex, lost your PrEP, or wasn’t taking it everyday while on vacation, come into Apicha CHC to get tested. You don’t need an appointment to get tested, but there may be a wait once you arrive – but don’t worry, we’ll make sure you get tested.
Frequently Asked Questions About PrEP
1. What do I do if I miss a day of PrEP? What if I miss I two days?
If you forget to take your PrEP for one day while vacation, take it as soon as you remember. If you miss two days, you should also take it as soon as you remember. However, if you miss more than five days of PrEP, your protection against HIV drops by 40%. If this happens, be sure to use a condom.
2. What happens if I lose my PrEP?
If you lose your PrEP and don’t have access to a pharmacy, use a condom. Be sure to check them and their expiration dates. If you do have access to a pharmacy, Apicha may be able to help you get an emergency refill. Talk to your Apicha CHC provider or PrEP Navigator about this before you leave for vacation.
3. I might have been exposed to HIV. Can I take PEP?
If you had unprotected sex and think you may have been exposed to HIV, PEP is an option for you. You can take PEP up to 72 hours after potential HIV exposure. In a nutshell, PEP stops the spread of the HIV virus.
4. If I had unprotected sex, should I get tested?
Yes. If you had unprotected sex, we highly recommend coming in to get tested for HIV and STDs. You do not need an appointment to get tested, and can do a walk in. But, please be aware we might be busy.
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".