At Men’s Vitality Center in Tucson, we are proud to offer PrEP, or pre-exposure prophylaxis. PrEP is a strategy for HIV prevention that involves using a medication that HIV-negative people can take to reduce the risk of contracting HIV. It works by preventing the HIV virus from spreading infection in the body. Understandably, people often have questions about this new form of HIV prevention. Here, we will outline some of the questions we commonly hear.

Why should I take PrEP?

PrEP is not for everyone; it is specifically for people who do not have HIV, but who are at risk for contracting it. This includes:

  • Anyone who is in a monogamous relationship with an HIV-positive person
  • Gay or bisexual men who have had anal sex without a condom in the last six months
  • Men who have sex with men and women
  • Anyone who regularly has sex without condoms with partners who may or may not have HIV

What does taking PrEP involve?

PrEP involves more than just taking a pill. You must take a pill (Truvada) every day, be tested for HIV and STIs regularly, and visit your doctor at Men’s Vitality Center every two to three months.

If I am taking PrEP, do I still need to use condoms?

While PrEP is 92 to 99 percent effective in reducing the risk of contracting HIV, it does not protect against other STIs, and does not prevent against pregnancy. Therefore, the continued use of condoms is advised, as condoms prevent against HIV, STIs, and pregnancy.

How long does it take for PrEP to work effectively?

The Truvada pill for PrEP needs a minimum of seven days to reach the proper levels of protection. When taken as directed, Truvada reduces HIV risk by up to 99 percent in HIV-negative people.

What are the side effects of taking Truvada?

When first starting Truvada, many people report experiencing side effects such as dizziness, fatigue, nausea, and vomiting. These side effects go away on their own. Additionally, in the clinical trials, some people experienced elevation in kidney function tests, so it is important to routinely check in with your doctor about your kidneys. Others in the clinical trials decreased their bone density at first, but this did not progress any further and did not ultimately affect bone health.

Do I have to be on PrEP for the rest of my life?

Not necessarily. Circumstances change, and you may find that you are no longer at risk of being exposed to HIV; for example, if you enter a monogamous relationship with another HIV-negative person. If you begin taking PrEP and your sex life changes in some way that it no longer makes sense to take it, talk to your doctor at our men’s clinic in Tucson, and we will help you safely stop taking PrEP.

At Men’s Vitality Center in Tucson, we want to help you do everything you can to protect your health. If you are interested in PrEP to reduce your risk of contracting HIV, come in and talk to one of our men’s health physicians today.