What’s PrEP? What’s Truvada? AKeem tells it all 

by | Apr 10, 2020 | PrEP 101

Are you nervous that you’re at risk for HIV? Akeem Rollins, MetroHealth PrEP Navigator, lays out everything you need to know about PrEP. 

Do you want to reduce your risk of catching HIV by up to 99%? PrEP can do that when you take it like you’re supposed to. 

PrEP, which stands for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, is a once a day pill that helps you really reduce your risk of catching HIV. Doctors can give you one of two PrEP medicines: Truvada or Descovy. 

Akeem wants people to know these three things: 

  1. PrEP only prevents the transmission of HIV, not other STIs like gonorrhea, HPV, or syphilis.
  2. PrEP should be taken as directed to be the most effective.
  3. Since PrEP prevents you from getting HIV, you have to be HIV-negative to get on PrEP. It’s like a birth control pill, but for your immune system.   

“Nobody wants to take a pill every day when they aren’t sick, I get it. But, this pill will help you avoid catching HIV. Sure, HIV isn’t the death sentence that it used to be. But it’s still a life-changing thing. People who get HIV can get diarrhea, fever, and other problems. When they get older, sadly, people living with HIV have higher risks of heart disease and diabetes too,” Akeem said. “HIV isn’t something to mess with. That’s why you should think about PrEP.” 

PrEP Myths Debunked 

Akeem knows that there is plenty of bad information out there about PrEP. These myths scare people, and he doesn’t want people to be afraid.

“PrEP is safe!” Akeen said. “I’ve heard people say that they think it’s going to make their bones break or damage their kidneys. Those things don’t happen. It’s normally safe, and fewer than 8% of people feel side effects.”

There are four other myths that Akeem wants to put to rest:

There are four other myths that Akeem wants to put to rest:

1. PrEP is only for gay people or for people who like certain sex positions.
False! HIV doesn’t care what your sexual orientation is, and it doesn’t care if you’re a top or a bottom.

2. Once you take PrEP, you have to take it for the rest of your life. 
Wrong! You should always talk to your doctor before you stop taking PrEP. But, if you’re in a monogamous relationship or have stopped having sex, there’s no need to take PrEP. Also, you can stop PrEP if you have a partner who is living with HIV but is undetectable, since U=U, Undetectable = Untransmittable.

3. PrEP makes you HIV-positive. 
Wrong again! It’s only possible to test positive for HIV if you have HIV.

4. Your primary doctor won’t give you PrEP. 
It’s a good thing that this is wrong! You don’t need a specialist doctor, like an infectious disease one, to write you a PrEP prescription. Your PCP can and should do it.

On that last note, Akeem really wants to stress that your PCP can prescribe you PrEP. He said, “Tell them, ‘No, you’re my primary care doctor. Please prescribe it to me.’”

Sometimes, Akeem said, doctors will refer you out to a specialist for PrEP because they don’t understand the protocol, or they don’t want the extra work. PrEP involves regular bloodwork and routine checkups. Akeem knows this because, on top of helping folks navigate the PrEP process, he educates doctors, too.

If you’ve got questions, hit up Akeem.

You can ask him literally anything. Call or text him at 216-714-2223. 

Email AKeem at Metro for PrEP

Email Fiona at UH for PrEP