October 29, 2020

Health Care, HIV/AIDS

We know you know your status*.

But did you know that there’s a little blue pill that helps prevent HIV?

That’s right! It’s called pre-exposure prophylaxis or PrEP, and it’s a daily medication to help prevent HIV for people at risk of exposure. That (longer-than-you-may-think) list includes:

  • People with sexual partners of unknown HIV status;
  • Men who have sex with men;
  • People who are in an ongoing relationship with an HIV-positive partner;
  • People who sometimes or never use condoms for sex;
  • People who have recently tested positive for a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI);
  • People who inject drugs or share needles with people of unknown HIV status.

Your Maine Family Planning provider can help you figure out if PrEP is right for you.

PrEP is super-effective if used consistently — reducing the risk of getting HIV from sex by about 99 percent, and by at least 74 percent among people who inject drugs. Important reminder: PrEP stops an HIV infection from taking hold in your body, but does not guard against other STIs like syphilis, gonorrhea or chlamydia. (Condoms do!)

How do I get PrEP?

If you think you might be at risk of HIV exposure, come talk to us. We offer HIV testing and PrEP consultations and prescriptions for new and current patients at all 18 Maine Family Planning locations, as well as via telehealth. PrEP is available to people of all gender and sexual identities. 

Click here to find our clinic days, hours, and addresses.

Two medications, sold under the brand names Truvada® and Descovy®, are approved for daily use as PrEP to help prevent a person without HIV from getting the virus from sex or injection drug use. For some, on-demand PrEP dosing can also be effective. Talk to your MFP provider about this option if you have trouble taking your daily pill.

Once you start taking PrEP, we’ll do regular check-ups to make sure things are going well.

Cost should not be a barrier to using PrEP. Most insurance plans cover PrEP, including MaineCare. If you don’t have insurance, don’t worry! There are public and private patient assistance programs to help people cover the cost of medical visits, lab tests, and the daily medication. You may also qualify for free testing or PrEP through state or federal initiatives. Ask our expert staff if you think you’ll need help paying for PrEP.

“As a society, we need to take charge of our sexual health,” wrote Candice A. Sternberg, M.D., an assistant professor of Clinical Medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Miami and a Public Voices Fellow of The OpEd Project, at The Hill this month. “That includes changing the way we think about HIV risk. If at risk, one of the steps we can take is talking with a health care provider about PrEP. HIV can be prevented and we should guard against it.”

Let MFP help you get PrEP-ped to prevent HIV.

Know Your Status

*If you don’t know your HIV status, we can help with that, too!

MFP currently offers two types of rapid HIV tests, depending on eligibility:

  • In-clinic HIV rapid test (finger stick)
  • OraQuick HIV In-Home test kit

Call (207) 922-3222 to see which type of test is best for you.

Experts recommend everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested for HIV at least once, and more often if you have certain risk factors.  

If any of this information is new to you, please share it with a friend or loved one! Increased knowledge empowers us to live safe and healthy lives, on our own terms.