Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri is pleased to announce we are now offering PrEP at all eight of our health centers. PrEP is a medication regimen that prevents HIV by reducing the chances of infection and transmission. We’re excited to expand our services, in addition to HIV testing and counseling, to reduce HIV/AIDS rates in Missouri and Illinois. Here are the basics regarding the new service and whether or not it may be right for you:
What is PrEP?
Pre-exposure prophylaxis, also known as PrEP, is a daily HIV prevention medication. Intended for long-term use, PrEP is taken prior to exposure and reduces your risk of getting HIV by up to 92 percent. It is for those who don’t have HIV but are at an increased risk of contracting it.
How does PrEP work?
PrEP is a daily pill meant to prevent future HIV infections. Patients taking PrEP will also need to return regularly to the health center for HIV testing and other follow up. If you develop symptoms like a fever, mouth sores, muscle pain or rash while using PrEP, speak with your doctor right away. These symptoms may be the beginning stages of HIV.
How do I know if PrEP is right for me?
Talk to your doctor or a health care provider and see if PrEP is right for you. PrEP may be right for you if:
You have a sexual partner who has HIV (sometimes called serodiscordant, serodifferent, magnetic, or mixed status couples).
You have a sexual partner who is at high risk for getting HIV (like if they have anal or vaginal sex with other people without condoms, or they’re an injection drug user).
You have anal or vaginal sex with many partners, especially if you don’t use condoms regularly.
You engage in sex work that includes vaginal or anal sex.
You have injected drugs, shared needles, or been in treatment for drug use in the past 6 months.
You are at high risk for HIV and are pregnant, trying to get pregnant, or breastfeeding.
During your appointment, you will be tested for HIV, as PrEP doesn’t work if you’re already positive. You will also be tested for Hepatitis B and other sexually transmitted infections. Financial assistance through Gilead, the makers of PrEP, is available for those who qualify. If you have any questions, or if you’d like to make an appointment to start using PrEP, please give us a call at 314-531-7526.
At this time we are not offering post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP).
Charity Galgani is the Director of Clinical Services at Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri.