It works really well
PrEP is more effective than condoms at protecting you from HIV. Condoms have been our best line of defense in the past but they would break, slip off, not get used in the heat of the moment or when intoxicated. PrEP is taken as a pill once a day. Its very forgiving if you miss a dose and still provides and incredible level of protection against HIV. We know there are at least 140,000 people just in the USA using PrEP and over the last 7 years there have been only two documented cases of PrEP failing when taken properly. That's less than 0.0014% failure rate. You are way more likely to be struck by lightening over your lifetime than have PrEP fail on you. If you've felt comfortable using condoms as a protection then you can feel very comfortable using PrEP as a protection.
Safe and mild in your body
PrEP is described medically as "well tolerated" in your body and for the vast majority of people is completely safe to take on a daily basis over a long period of time. A study has found that PrEP is as "safe as aspirin". About 1 in 200 people will have problems with their kidneys and its a good idea to have a kidney function test when you start PrEP and at 3 monthly intervals, along with STI and HIV testing. Of those that have problems a break is all that is required and about 98% of those people can resume PrEP again.
The early generations of anti-HIV medications have left some people with the impression that "toxic" chemicals are used. It hasn't been that way for a long time. The new generations of HIV suppressant medication and preventative medication like PrEP are much milder and much safer.
Temporary or no side effects
About 1 in 10 people experience mild "start up side effects". Most people take the pill and notice zero change. Of those who do get side effects it can be queasy stomach, fatigue, dizziness and some people report vivid dreams. Onset and duration vary from person to person but can start around day 5 and last for about 10 days. If you are concerned at all have a chat with your doctor.
Cheap and available now
Most Western countries have some way to access affordable PrEP at the moment. In the rest of the world it varies but the major barrier seems to be a lack of knowledge and awareness of how powerful a protection PrEP is. See our "Country Info" section for your local ways to access PrEP.
Buy PrEP online
Prices start at about $85.15 USD for a three month supply including delivery. Countries that have a version of personal importation may simply allow you to buy it and its delivered. Some countries require you provide a prescription from a local doctor to get it through customs. European customers often use a mail relay service from the UK to their own country.
Government funded PrEP
Places like Belgium, Morroco and France have taken the great step of paying most of the cost of PrEP for the their citizens.
Trials and research studies
One loophole used by some governments to fund generic and cheaper PrEP is to run a trial or study. Copyright provisions on PrEP are either bypassed or waived. Often the research is just the excuse to get PrEP into the hands of thousands of people at a time. See the "Country Info" section to see if there are any trial in your area that you can enroll in. PrEP has been extensively studied for more than 14 years and is clinically well known. The studies are often on the social aspects of PrEP use not it's medical safety.
Removes fear and anxiety
The surprising effect for most people is that they start to let go of the burden of fear and anxiety about HIV that most didn't even know they had been carrying. Instead of worrying about when you last brushed your teeth and if their are micro-lesions, cuts, abrasions and where fluids are going during passionate and intimate times, there is a growing sense of safety. Its a process and often it take a few negative HIV tests for it to sink in. 30 years of being told to worry takes time to unwind.
Seeing your doctor
Countries like the UK don't require you to have a prescription from a doctor but others like Australia and New Zealand etc do. Regardless of the requirements its good to get into the habit of seeing your doctor every three months for the following tests. See "Country Info" for the requirements in your location.
You need to be HIV negative when you start PrEP. If you already have the HIV virus in your body then PrEP can partially suppress the dominant strain and let other types flourish. It can be fixed but a complication you don't need. 4th generation HIV tests have a window period of 4 weeks. Ask for the "window period" for your HIV test. The window period is the time it normally takes for the HIV infection to show up on the test after exposure. If you are exposed to HIV, say, two weeks before the test but its window period is 4 weeks then that exposure, and possible infection, might not show up in that test. Its good to get a second test 4 weeks after the first to confirm. Most PrEP protocols recommend kidney, STI and HIV testing at start up.
3 monthly testing
Get tested for:
Its relatively rare to have kidney problems on PrEP but other things you might put in your body or do to it can also have an impact. Its nice to establish a base line for your doctor to know whats normal for you. Of course PrEP doesn't prevent other STIs and three monthly testing is a great idea. Some countries have it as part of the protocol and others its optional. We thinks its great to get it all done at once. HIV testing is recommended in case you don't take your pills as you should but we also recommend it because its a great way to know you can trust your PrEP.