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How Do I Start PrEP?

Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is a groundbreaking strategy in the fight against HIV/AIDS, offering a significant protective measure for individuals at high risk of infection. This medical approach, which involves the regular intake of antiretroviral medication, has been hailed as a cornerstone in HIV prevention efforts, reshaping public health strategies and offering hope to countless individuals worldwide.

Understanding PrEP

Pre-exposure prophylaxis, commonly referred to as PrEP, is a preventive method for people who are HIV-negative but at high risk of contracting the virus. It involves taking a daily pill or injections every 2 months. Both forms of PrEP contain antiretroviral drugs. These drugs work by inhibiting the virus’s ability to replicate in the body, thus preventing HIV infection even after exposure.

The Effectiveness of PrEP

Numerous studies have demonstrated the high efficacy of PrEP in preventing HIV transmission when taken consistently. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV from sex by about 99% when taken as prescribed. For those who inject drugs, PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV by at least 74% when taken consistently.

Who Should Consider PrEP?

PrEP is recommended for individuals who are at substantial risk of HIV infection. This includes but is not limited to:

  • Men who have sex with men (MSM) and have had anal sex without a condom or been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the past six months.
  • Heterosexual men and women who do not regularly use condoms with partners known to be at risk for HIV (such as injecting drug users or bisexual men).
  • People who inject drugs and share needles or other injection equipment.
  • Individuals with an HIV-positive partner, especially if the partner has an unknown or detectable viral load.

Access and Adherence

Access to PrEP is critical, and various healthcare systems worldwide have taken steps to increase its availability. However, challenges remain, including awareness, cost, and healthcare disparities. Adherence to the medication is crucial for its effectiveness; missing doses can significantly reduce PrEP’s protective benefits.

PrEP and Overall HIV Prevention Strategy

While PrEP is highly effective in preventing HIV, it is most effective when combined with other prevention methods, such as condom use, regular HIV testing, and treatment for STIs. PrEP does not protect against other STIs or unwanted pregnancies, so additional protective measures are necessary. Telehealth allows patients to access providers fluent in prescribing PrEP.

The Emergence of Apretude

Apretude (cabotegravir extended-release injectable suspension) is designed for individuals who are at risk of HIV but prefer an option other than daily pills. This long-acting injectable is administered initially as two injections one month apart, followed by subsequent injections every two months. This innovative approach addresses some of the challenges associated with daily oral PrEP, such as pill fatigue and the difficulty some individuals have in maintaining a daily medication regimen.

Efficacy and Safety

Clinical trials have demonstrated Apretude’s efficacy in reducing the risk of HIV acquisition. Studies show that Apretude is as effective as daily oral PrEP when administered correctly. The side effects of Apretude are generally mild to moderate and may include injection site reactions, headache, fever, fatigue, and muscle pain. However, the benefits of Apretude in preventing HIV infection significantly outweigh these potential side effects for those at high risk.

Advantages Over Daily Oral PrEP

The most significant advantage of Apretude over daily oral PrEP is the reduced need for daily medication adherence. This can significantly benefit individuals with difficulty adhering to a daily regimen due to lifestyle, privacy concerns, or medication fatigue. Furthermore, Apretude provides a discreet HIV prevention method, which can be particularly beneficial for individuals who wish to keep their PrEP usage private.

Implementation and Access

The introduction of Apretude into HIV prevention strategies requires healthcare systems to adapt to the logistical challenges of delivering injectable medication. This includes ensuring that healthcare providers are trained in administering the injections and that there are systems in place to remind individuals of their upcoming doses to maintain the medication’s efficacy.

Access to Apretude is expanding, including mobile injectable services. However, cost and insurance coverage can be barriers. Advocacy for broader coverage and access is ongoing, aiming to ensure that all individuals at risk for HIV, regardless of their economic status, can benefit from this prevention method.

The Future of PrEP

Ongoing research aims to expand PrEP options, including long-acting injectables and other formulations, to improve convenience and adherence. These innovations promise to make HIV prevention more accessible and tailored to individual needs and lifestyles. Concierge medicine increases access to these medications through tailored plans and personalized health care. In Denver mobile injectable PrEP is available through Mobile Care Health, with multistate coverage of oral PrEP.

Conclusion

PrEP represents a significant advancement in HIV prevention, offering an effective tool for individuals at high risk of infection. By increasing awareness, improving access, and ensuring adherence, PrEP can play a pivotal role in global efforts to combat the spread of HIV and move closer to the goal of ending the AIDS epidemic. As research continues and new prevention methods are developed, the hope is that PrEP will become an even more integral part of comprehensive HIV prevention strategies.

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Clayton Evans

Clayton Evans is an IFA Certified Personal Trainer and IFA Certified Sports Nutritionist with over 5 years of experience in the health and fitness Industry. After years of struggling with his own health and fitness, Clayton lost over 30 lbs and started a career helping others achieve the best version of themselves. Clayton spent several years working with large corporate gyms developing fitness programs and working with Nutrition and Wellness Companies to improve a client’s overall health. His approach with clients is simple – small changes in fitness and diet that will have the largest impact and will fit into a client’s busy lifestyle.

Chad Antonson

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Brooke is a skilled and compassionate Adult Nurse Practitioner with over 10 years of experience in healthcare and a passion for helping patients achieve optimal health and wellness. Brooke holds a Master of Science in Nursing with a specialization in adult health and gerontology from Maryville University of St. Louis. She completed post-graduate training in functional medicine through the Institute for Functional Medicine and obtained her NP board certification through the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Credentialing Board in 2019. As a Nurse Practitioner, Brooke seeks to address the root causes of disease and treat the whole person, rather than just the symptoms. She believes in taking a personalized and holistic approach to each patient. She has special interests in helping patients heal from metabolic syndrome, achieve their weight loss goals, optimize fertility, and recover from complex chronic illness. In her free time, Brooke enjoys hiking, reading, rollerblading, cooking healthy meals, and spending time with her fun-loving husband and spirited toddlers. She is excited to partner with you on your health journey and support you in achieving your goals.

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Jacqueline Carbone is a highly experienced nurse practitioner that specializes in providing her clients with holistic, evidenced based, compassionate care. She specializes in Mental health, ketamine assisted therapy and Migraines. She is board certified from the American Nurses Credentialing Center. Jacque has her post Masters certificate from University of Colorado in Psychiatric Mental Health and two master’s degrees—one in acute care/geriatric nursing and one as a clinical specialist in geriatrics—from Georgetown University. She has also completed a fellowship with Dr Arnaldo DeSilva a headache specialist. She is passionate about providing a holistic treatment plan for her clients.

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Steve is a native of Colorado with bachelors in culinary nutrition. He worked as a classically trained chef, for over a decade. After chef life he shifted careers to join Mobile Care Health as our Operations Manager. Steve enjoys Crossfit, boating, road trips and camping.

Dr. Michael McGurren

Dr Michael McGurren was born and raised in Denver, Colorado. He graduated from Creighton University Medical School, and was the Chief Resident followed at Barnes-Jewish in St. Louis. He is board certified in Emergency Medicine and provides medical direction, as well as urgent care services for Mobile Care Health. In his free time he can be found sailing around the world, with a captains license and over 2500 nautical miles sailed. On shore he enjoys traveling with wife and pup Kylo in custom campervan.