Now There’s At-Home HIV Testing and PrEP Prescriptions
There are over 16,000 people estimated to be living with HIV in San Francisco and over 100,000 in New York City. While we are decades past the AIDS Crisis of the 1980’s HIV is still being spread. It doesn’t discriminate against Straight/Gay/Bi/Trans people. If you’re having sex, you’re at risk, and you don’t have to be.
PrEP, a once-daily pill that is 99% effective at preventing HIV infection, is available to almost anyone who wants it. The problem is that less than 10% of people who should be taking it have a prescription. One reason people aren’t taking PrEP is that it requires an HIV test showing you are negative and many people are reluctant to get tested. Some of the reasons people don’t get tested include: cost of lab testing, cost of medication, stigma surrounding HIV, and not wanting to tell another person their sexual habits and history. Now, however, there is an at-home HIV testing kit that can also prescribe PrEP.
Nurx, a telemedicine service, allows patients to consult with a provider, complete lab work and receive and fill a PrEP prescription delivered right to their door. There is no walk of shame to and from a doctor’s office. This service is cost-effective and discreet. (they also deliver birth control with or without insurance).
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I spoke with Dr. Jessica Knox, Medical Director for Nurx, and I asked about the importance of being tested and how PrEP can save lives.
What should someone do if they test positive for HIV?
Dr. Knox: Different people respond very differently to this type of news, but we try to reassure any patient that has an HIV test return positive that things will be okay. HIV is very treatable these days, and with treatment, people living with HIV can live long and healthy lives. When a person’s test comes back positive for HIV, they should connect to care in their community ASAP. Getting on HIV treatment quickly is the best way to ensure the individual – and their partner(s) – remain as healthy as possible.
What demographic used PrEP most? Least?
Dr. Knox: White men who have sex with men currently use PrEP the most. Women, in general, use PrEP the least. It’s very important that we get more women (both cis- and trans-) and more people of color onto PrEP. People of color are at the highest risk for HIV infection, and many women mistakenly think they’re not at risk for HIV.
What is the cost to patients for PREP prescriptions?
Dr. Knox: Out of pocket, a Truvada for PrEP prescription may cost $1000-$1900 per month. Fortunately, most insurance plans cover Truvada; and the manufacturer of Truvada has some great payment assistance programs that can help cover copay costs for insured folks, or cover the full cost of the medication for uninsured individuals whose income qualifies for the program. There are also other payment assistance programs available. Between these various programs, most Nurx patients pay $0 out of pocket for their Truvada prescription.
You have no excuse for not knowing your status. You don’t even have to leave your house to find out. Knowing your status and getting on PrEP will keep you healthy. Reducing HIV transmissions is something that affects all of us. Do your part.
For more information including side effects visit Nurx.com