Your Experience is a Gift

We feature real stories from people who have chosen to use PrEP as one way to protect themselves from HIV. If you have used or are using PrEP, we invite you to share your PrEP experience via audio, video, or in writing. Send video or audio links and/or text to myprepexperience@gmail.com and we will post them here. You can include your name, or you may contribute your story anonymously. This blog also contains helpful information on PrEP for users, potential users, and providers. Look for the links in the sidebar.

We have not heard of any insurance company or any Medicaid program outright denying coverage of Truvada as PrEP. Some companies and programs are requiring prior-authorization, however, which requires paperwork to be filled out. And the type of insurance coverage you have, including prescription drug benefits, will determine the cost to you as the consumer. To date, we have seen the biggest barrier to obtaining PrEP from providers who are unwilling to write a prescription.

If you have trouble getting a prescription for Truvada as PrEP from your provider, or getting a PrEP prescription covered by insurance or Medicaid, we are happy to troubleshoot with you. Send us an email to myprepexperience@gmail.com.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Anon in Connecticut: "My fear before was being fed by all the misinformation on the internet."

Just got my first bottle of Truvada thru my insurance... I feel protected and liberated.



by Anon
Hamden, Connecticut

Just got my first bottle of Truvada thru my insurance. My copay was only $20.

I should have done this a long time ago. It took me 1 yr to decide to go to my specialist who removed all my fears about side effects. He wasn't concerned at all that there will be side effects since he has many patients taking it for several years.

My fear before was being fed by all the misinformation on the internet, unfounded half truths, and I was stupid enough to listen to those fears and in the meantime I know I could have become HIV+ while waiting and waiting to make that decision to start protecting myself...

Now I have this pill in my hand, I feel so relieved, I feel protected and liberated. Of course, I still plan to use condoms... but we have to be realistic...

When we fall in love.. we do get carried away... that's where this pill comes in for protection.


 [EDITOR: If you have a personal PrEP experience you would like to share, send it to myprepexperience@gmail.com. Words or video.]

 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Singapore Doc: "I remember the very first patient to whom I prescribed PrEP."

Many of my patients find it difficult to broach the topic of PrEP.

Most of them share  with me that they are worried about being judged.

I try to assuage this by making the  discussion factual, objective, scientific and professional.


by Dr. Tan Kok Kuan
Singapore

I am a doctor practicing in Singapore. We are an island state located in South East Asia known for its squeaky clean image, economic prowess and draconian anti-HIV  laws. Singapore’s official reported prevalence rate of HIV is 0.1%. However, based on  good evidence, many people including myself believe that the real figure is closer to  0.3%.

I wrote a blog article on PrEP in 2010 when evidence of its efficacy first started to become apparent. I was at first rather skeptical. Not of the effectiveness of the treatment but rather of its potential uptake. I was wondering how to approach this topic with my patients.

I was worried that if I brought up the topic of PrEP to my patients, they would misconstrue my intentions as accusing them of being promiscuous or suggesting that they are knowingly putting themselves at risk of HIV.

Fortunately my fears were unfounded. Many of my patients were very pleased to  learn more about PrEP and even if they were not ready to start on it, they at least were  appreciative of the knowledge of this option open to them.

I remember the very first patient to whom I prescribed PrEP.

He was a heterosexual male  in his 30’s and had a HIV +ve girlfriend living in another country. He would visit  her frequently and each time he went, he took PrEP. This went on for a while and  they eventually got married. Now, he is on PrEP daily. True love and Truvada does conquer all.

Since then, I have prescribed PrEP to many patients. Although I routinely warn them  of the potential side effects, I must say, to date, the worst side effect I have seen in my  patients is some mild nausea. I am not even sure if the nausea was psychosomatic.

A common concern brought up by my fellow medical professionals is that prescribing PrEP will make patients more promiscuous. I personally have not found that to be  the case. In fact, all of my patients have reported that their sexual practices before and after taking PrEP have not changed.

I also find that my patients who bother to take the time to have a conversation about PrEP with me are people who are aware and realistic about their sexual habits and have a sense of responsibility to their own health and that of the people close to them.  So it seems to me patients on PrEP are already self selected to be the type of patients who will not throw caution to the wind  and take unnecessary risks because they are on PrEP.

Many of my patients find it difficult to broach the topic of PrEP. Most of them share  with me that they are worried about being judged. I try to assuage this by making the  discussion factual, objective, scientific and professional.

By focusing on the facts, the science and the data, I find that patients will naturally start to feel more at ease. Instead of taking a authoritative role and dictating to patients whether they should be on PrEP or not, I prefer to take a consultative role. I would detail out the benefits  and risks of PrEP, allow them to clear whatever doubts they may have then make a  decision with them, not for them.

I read with great interest the many stories on this blog. It is heartening to know that  there is so much financial support for PrEP in the USA. Here in Singapore, Truvada  costs SGD$30 (about USD$23) per pill and it is all out of pocket expense. I also find it heartbreaking to hear of medical professionals who give patients a hard time with regards to PrEP.

From the current evidence, it looks like we are inching our way towards a cure  for HIV. I do hope we will be able to realise this in my lifetime. In the meantime, we must not forget that we are fighting  a war and HIV is the enemy.

We must use everything at our disposal to win this war. PrEP is a weapon, use it.
This is a summit about humanity -- a future free of HIV/AIDS should be made available to each man, woman, and child around the world.

--José M. Zuniga, PhD, MPH, President, International Association of Providers of AIDS Care (IAPAC)
Dr. Tan runs a medical clinic in Singapore focusing on HIV and STDs. He  also blogs on HIV, STDs and other Sexual Health topics. Check it out at:  www.drtanandpartners.com


[EDITOR: If you are a doctor who prescribes PrEP and  would like to share your experience and perspective, send us your story to myprepexperience@gmail.com. Words or video.]

 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Anon in WeHo - "Being on PrEP put the control in my hands."


I'll never know if being on PrEP prevented me from contracting HIV, but I'll always be grateful that I made the decision to start taking it.




by Anon, West Hollywood

Here is my PrEP experience.

I started taking Truvada about six months ago. I'm single for the first time in 13 years, and sexually active. I did a lot of research, through the internet, mostly through the "PrEP Facts" Facebook group. My general practitioner is also a specialist in the treatment and prevention of HIV, and was able to help me navigate through the information.

I've had virtually no side effects taking the drug. Some mild nausea, in the beginning. I've followed through with regular HIV testing, as well as kidney tests.

I've participated a great deal online in discussions involving PrEP, pushing back agains the "slut shamers" and conspiracy theorists who think its a bad idea.

I had no problems getting this covered by my insurance, and my out of pocket cost is nothing, because of the Gilead co-payment assistance program. I changed insurance providers in January (to United Healthcare), and had to order the drug through their specialty pharmacy. But this has been fairly easy, and it is always sent within 2 business days. It did require pre-authorization from my doctor and a little bit of red tape with the pharmacy to set this up.

About a month ago, I was on my first gay cruise. I went home with a couple who told me they were positive, but undetectable. We were all intoxicated. In the middle of it, I was being topped by one partner, when the other one looked down and told us both that he wasn't wearing a condom. We started with one, but it slipped off, and I didn't notice. We were having condom-less sex for about a minute. Maybe it wouldn't have happened if we were all sober. But this is an example of how things can happen (my first ever), and even a person who vows to use condoms 100% of the time could have an experience like this.

This gave me a level of anxiety the next morning, but I felt assured that everything would be OK because I decided to use PrEP. The couple both indicated that they were undetectable, but I never know who I can trust, or what to believe.

Being on PrEP put the control in my hands.


I waited the requisite three weeks and went in for a NAAT test, which came back negative.

I'll never know if being on PrEP prevented me from contracting HIV, but I'll always be grateful that I made the decision to start taking it.


 [EDITOR: If you have a personal PrEP experience you would like to share, send it to myprepexperience@gmail.com. Words or video.]

Friday, April 11, 2014

PrEP Facts Brochure for People and Providers

http://prepfacts.org/assets/PrEP_Facts_16-pager_brochure_mech_FINAL.pdf

Since we know one of the biggest barriers for PrEP access is providers who are resistant to providing a prescription, our friends at San Francisco AIDS Foundation developed a patient-provider brochure to help overcome this potential barrier to both learn more about PrEP and use it as a tool to talk with your medical provider. Print it off, or save it on your phone.

It features details on how PrEP works, what taking PrEP entails, cost and insurance information, checklists, as well as PrEP-related billing codes that will help your provider figure out how to submit your services for payment from insurance companies and Medicaid.

Check out PrEPfacts.org for more great resources.

Here is a direct link to a very helpful virtual library of PrEP materials.

www.prefacts.org


Thursday, April 10, 2014

VIDEO: Truvada: The HIV Prevention Pill No One Is Talking About

Fantastic reporting from Fusion TV, featuring a beautiful couple, one of whom does porn on the weekends.

One of our favorite exchanges is towards the end when the reporter asks a random guy in a bar about Truvada as PrEP. He expresses concern that it would make him more promiscuous - "I do feel that if I took PrEP, I would be prone to be more promiscuous- I do." Mitchell counters with, "But you already are promiscuous, so why don't, why not protect yourself?" To which the guy responds - "That's a very good point."