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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Matthew in Columbus - "The peace of mind is tremendous."

Now after a week I feel no different than before I started taking Truvada but the peace of mind is tremendous.

via  Matthew
Columbus, Ohio

I just began taking Truvada as PrEP about a week ago so I thought I would share my experiences.

I was visiting my doctor for an annual checkup and thought I would ask her then about a prescription for Truvada.

My biggest motivation was that I'm presently seeing someone who is HIV+ and responding very well to therapy, but the risk of transmission is always an issue during intimacy especially for him.

My secondary motivation is that when not in a relationship I have a pretty miserable track record of using condoms.

In preparation of talking to my doctor about Truvada PrEP I decided it would be wise to provide as much information as I could find in order to make our discussion more productive. My prescription insurance provider through my employer is Catamaran and I could find exactly nothing on their website regarding Truvada PrEP. After a lengthy session with Google I found a document that details Catamaran's coverage policy and a link to Gilead's Truvada PrEP website.

I printed out the Catamaran document and everything on the Gilead site, read over it all, and put together a packet for my doctor. This proved to be critically important. 

At first mention of a prescription for Truvada my doctor told me that Truvada wasn't something she could prescribe to me because I was, as of my last test, HIV negative. Surprisingly, she wasn't aware that Truvada was even authorized for PrEP, despite having many HIV+ patients and being very familiar with HIV treatment. This tells me that the medical community needs better education of Truvada PrEP so that they can better work with patients who could benefit from it.

I can only imagine that if my doctor, in a practice that specifically notes that they accept HIV patients in a large city with a huge gay population, wasn't aware of Truvada PrEP that awareness in the medical community at large is sorely lacking and high-risk patients are missing out.

After a long talk and a pause while my doctor read over the materials I brought along, she agreed to consider a prescription after being sure that Truvada was appropriate for me. After a couple of days she notified me that my HIV test, taken the day of my visit as a pre-requisite for Truvada PrEP, was negative and that she had sent the prescription to my pharmacy.

Of course, pre-authorization was required from Catamaran and that process took a few days. I am now approved for 12 months of Truvada PrEP with HIV blood tests every three months, along with a bone density scan and kidney/liver function tests as a result of rare, but serious, potential Truvada side effects. My particular prescription plan requires that I pay a $25 monthly co-pay, but I have signed up for Gilead's co-pay assistance program to cover even that nominal cost.

All in all it was pretty easy. The hardest part was gathering the information to share with my doctor and educating her.

I only experienced the very mildest of side effects - a tiny bit of dizziness - for the first two mornings after I took my pill.

Now after a week I feel no different than before I started taking Truvada but the peace of mind is tremendous.

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