For years, people died from an unknown illness later to be named Human Immunodeficiency Virus most commonly known by its acronym HIV. During those times, it’s counterpart Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome also known as AIDS worked together to infect and kill millions of people worldwide. However, racing against the clock, scientists were able to develop a pill named Truvada and later, another name Descovy but we refer to them as Pre-exposure Prophylaxis – PrEP.
Let me start with the side effects. In life and if you have lived long enough, you know that everything comes with side effects such as relationships – is yours healthy or unhealthy, kids – are your good, doing the right things or bad in and out of trouble, public transportation – when it runs on time good when it breaks down or have delays, the side effect is now you are late. Others include but are now limited to your jobs, friends, cars, businesses and the list goes on and on. Everything that you can think about has some side effects, whether good and bad. For PrEP some side effects are nausea, headaches, stomachaches among other things, similar to taking other types of medication that may appear and disappear about a week after starting PrEP.
Keep in mind that some side effects can be more severe than others and some side effects can have detrimental outcomes.
On the flipside of things, there are plenty of benefits to taking PrEP. Taking PrEP is just one of the tools that you can use to prevent HIV in addition to using condoms and getting an HIV test on the regular basis. Experts believe that we can end the HIV epidemic, if we get more people who are HIV negative of PrEP because that is one of the requirements to being eligible to take PrEP. And if people who are living with HIV are engaged in care and treatment because undetectable equals un-transmittable. Additionally, providing sexual health education to everyone in an age appropriate manner.
So really, what is the deal with PrEP?
PrEP (Truvada or Descovy) is a pill you take once a day, morning or evening, whichever is most convenient for you. You must still use condoms and we encourage you to talk with your partner(s) about HIV and develop your own sexy plan on how you will remain safe during sexual intercourse and foreplay.
There are people out there to help – like Monarch Health Services – www.monarchealth.org. You can get help to make sense of it all. You should have a sexy safety plan for you and those with whom you play. Having a plan might sound crazy but it will give you a sense of relief, knowing that you have the information and a plan of action towards preventing and protecting yourself from HIV.
PrEP does not prevent STDs, STIs or pregnancy, it only protects against HIV. Know the facts and create your sexy safety plan. Protect yourself, your partners and your loved ones. You do not have to get HIV and you do not have to be a statistic. The power is in your hands and it is up to you to decide?
Together in the fight to end HIV
Richardo Jackson has over 20 years of experience addressing social determinants of health and improving health equity.