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PrEP and Women

Women and PrEP: Current facts and information

PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) is an essential HIV prevention tool that has proven to be highly effective at reducing the risk of HIV transmission in all people [1][5].

How Does PrEP Work?

PrEP works by utilizing antiretroviral medication to inhibit the replication of HIV in the body. When taken consistently, it can significantly reduce the risk of acquiring HIV from sexual activities or injection drug use. The medication prevents the virus from establishing an infection, safeguarding the individual’s health. It is important to note that PrEP is most effective when taken as prescribed, ensuring optimal protection against HIV transmission.

PrEP Options for Women

There are different forms of PrEP available for women. The most commonly prescribed medication is a daily oral pill containing emtricitabine/tenofovir, commonly known as Truvada. This medication has been approved for women, transgender men, and nonbinary individuals who engage in receptive vaginal sex.

Effectiveness of PrEP for Women

PrEP has proven to be highly effective in preventing HIV transmission among women. Clinical trials have demonstrated that when taken daily as prescribed, PrEP can reduce the risk of acquiring HIV from sex by about 99%. This impressive statistic highlight the importance of PrEP as a powerful tool in HIV prevention for women.

Awareness of PrEP for Women

Despite the beninfits, only 10% of women who would benefit from PrEP have been prescribed it as of 2019. {6} Efforts are being made to increase awareness and access to PrEP among women. Organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have developed resources specifically for women, such as brochures that provide useful tips on what to ask healthcare providers about PrEP[1]. The CDC has also highlighted the importance of PrEP coverage among women and is actively working to improve access and availability[2].

Accessing PrEP for Women

Despite the effectiveness of PrEP, it is disheartening that only a small percentage of women who could benefit from it actually receive a prescription. One barrier to PrEP uptake among women is the lack of knowledge and awareness. Studies have shown that there are lower levels of knowledge about PrEP among women compared to other populations[3]. Therefore, education campaigns targeted specifically at women, including transgender women, are essential in increasing awareness and understanding of the benefits of PrEP[3][6].

PrEP and Sexual Health

PrEP not only provides protection against HIV but also empowers women to have control over their sexual health. It can be used in combination with other prevention tools like condoms, post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), and the concept of undetectable equals untransmittable (U=U) to enhance protection and ensure a safer sexual experience. By utilizing PrEP alongside these additional measures, women can reduce their chances of acquiring HIV while engaging in the sexual activities they desire.

PrEP and Pregnancy

Pregnancy introduces unique considerations when it comes to HIV prevention. PrEP can play a crucial role in protecting both the mother and the baby from HIV transmission. It is safe to take PrEP while trying to conceive, during pregnancy, and while breastfeeding. If you have a partner living with HIV and are considering starting a family, it is important to discuss PrEP with your healthcare provider to ensure comprehensive protection throughout the entire reproductive journey.

PrEP Coverage and Affordability

Most insurance plans, including private plans and government programs like Medicaid, cover the cost of PrEP. Under the Affordable Care Act, PrEP must be provided at no cost under almost all health insurance plans. This means that individuals should not be charged for their PrEP medication, clinic visits, or necessary lab tests. For example, you will never be chargedyou’re your lab services when you choose renegade.health At-Home PrEP Collection Kit.  Even without insurance or Medicaid coverage, there are programs available to provide PrEP for free or at a reduced cost, co-pay assistance programs, and state PrEP assistance programs.  Our navigator teams have the latest information about all of these programs.

Adherence and Efficacy

Adherence to the prescribed PrEP regimen is crucial for optimal efficacy. When taken consistently and as directed, PrEP can lower the chances of acquiring HIV from sex by approximately 99% and reduce the risk of HIV transmission from injection drug use by at least 74%. It is important to take PrEP every day, preferably at the same time, to ensure maximum protection.

Conclusion

PrEP is a powerful tool in HIV prevention for women, offering a proactive approach to staying HIV-negative. It is highly effective when taken consistently and as prescribed, reducing the risk of acquiring HIV from sexual activities or injection drug use. Access to PrEP is crucial, and healthcare providers play a vital role in educating and guiding women through the process of determining if PrEP is the right choice for them. By taking control of their HIV protection, women can enjoy safer sexual experiences, protect their reproductive health, and contribute to the ongoing effort to eliminate new HIV transmissions.

Additional Information:

  • It is recommended to consult with a healthcare provider to discuss individual risk factors and determine if PrEP is the right option.
  • PrEP is not a substitute for other prevention methods like condoms and regular testing for sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
  • Every 90-days renegade.health will send you a PrEP Collection Kit. You must remain HIV negative to continue receiving PrEP medication.
  • Resources such as the HIV/AIDS Prevention & Service Provider Locator and Prep Locator can help individuals find PrEP providers in their area.
  • Taking PrEP consistently and as prescribed is crucial for optimal protection against HIV transmission.

Sources:

  1. PrEP Is for Women – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  2. What to Know About PrEP for Women – WebMD
  3. PrEP for Women – The Well Project
  4. PrEP Coverage | Women | Gender | HIV by Group | HIV/AIDS | CDC
  5. Women and HIV Preexposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  6. Source: CDC. Monitoring selected national HIV prevention and care objectives by using HIV surveillance data—United States and 6 dependent areas, 2019HIV Surveillance Supplemental Report 2021;26(2).