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Is Injectable PrEP Right For You?

by | Apr 23, 2022

If you’re looking for a way to prevent HIV infection, you already know that pre-exposure prophylaxis, PrEP, is one of the most effective ways to do it. But maybe taking a pill, even just once daily, isn’t working for you. The good news is that you have another, more invasive option: Injectable PrEP.

Apretude, the injectable version of PrEP, was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in December 2021. Apretude is an injection that prevents HIV transmission through sexual contact. It’s injected on one’s buttocks by a healthcare professional. The first two injections are given a month apart. After that, the injections are given every 2 months. Still, it isn’t right for everyone — it’s only recommended for high-risk adults and people who are having difficulty adhering to daily PrEP pills (or other forms of oral PrEP).

If you’ve tried taking a pill every day, but haven’t been successful, injectable PrEP might be worth considering. This post will go into detail about how Apretude works, why it could be a good option for some people, and what to consider before deciding whether or not it’s right for you.

How does it work?

Apretude is a form of PrEP, a daily pill also FDA-approved for preventing HIV transmission. Both medications are taken by people who do not have HIV but would like to avoid contracting it through sexual activity or sharing needles. 

PrEP and Apretude contain the same active ingredients — tenofovir disoproxil fumarate and emtricitabine — which are considered the most effective combination for preventing HIV transmission.

Apretude is administered by a healthcare provider in the form of a shot every two months, making it easier to get and much more convenient for people who aren’t great at remembering to take their medication daily.

Who can take Injectable PrEP?

Anybody who is at very high risk for HIV may be able to take injectable PrEP. People who have a very high risk of getting HIV through sex or injection drug use may benefit from taking injectable PrEP in addition to using condoms and other prevention methods.

Injectable PrEP is being studied in people at very high risk of getting HIV through sex. This includes gay and bisexual men, transgender women, and heterosexual men and women who do not always use condoms when having sex with partners who are very different from them in age, gender, or race/ethnicity.

How might injectable PrEP be different from taking a pill daily?

There are a lot of reasons why you might find it easier to use injectable PrEP than pills. Some people feel like they would be more likely to remember monthly injections rather than remembering to take a pill every day.

Other people feel like they want more control over their sexual health and prefer using injections that don’t require them to remember as often, some people are worried about side effects or drug interactions with pills, and other people just feel like they simply prefer injections instead of pills.

How effective is Injectable PrEP at preventing HIV?

Injectable PrEP provides maximum protection against HIV when injections are received every eight weeks (when they’re given at any other point, protection levels may vary). And when used consistently and correctly, injectable PrEP can be effective as oral PrEP in preventing HIV in cisgender men and transgender women who have sex with men.

What’s more, it doesn’t require the same day-to-day adherence to be fully functional that oral PrEP does. However, it’s important to note that none of these forms of PrEP protect against other sexually transmitted infections or pregnancy.

What are the possible side effects?

Side effects are generally mild and don’t last long after the injection is administered. You may experience injection site reactions, headache, fever, fatigue, back pain, muscle pain, and rash within 24 hours of receiving your shot. These symptoms are only short term and go away over time.

What other things should I be aware of when using Injectable PrEP?

If you are using injectable PrEP, you should be aware of a few other things besides the benefits and risks.

First of all, if you choose to use injectable PrEP, it should be administered by a licensed healthcare professional. Your healthcare provider will work with you to create a schedule for your injections. Eventually, you may be able to administer your own injections at home.

You should also know that if you have any allergies or adverse reactions to the medication, your healthcare provider can find alternative options for you. They can also find alternatives if there is an issue with the injection site in your arm.

Lastly, if you decide that injectable PrEP is not working for you or is not right for you anymore, then your healthcare provider can help you switch to another prevention method like oral PrEP.

Is Injectable PrEP right for you?

If you’re worried about taking pills every day or want to limit your exposure to HIV, then yes. It’s also great if you’re hoping to streamline your sexual health regimen or want the option of going a few months without having to worry about HIV-negative status.

Like anything in life, it’s hard to say whether something is “right or wrong”—and that includes which form of PrEP might make sense for your life! What matters most is being informed and making the choice that feels right for you.

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Brian Webb

Brian Webb

Author

Brian Webb is the founder and editor-in-chief of HomoCulture, a celebrated content creator, and winner of the prestigious Mr. Gay Canada – People’s Choice award.An avid traveler, Brian attends Pride events, festivals, street fairs, and LGBTQ friendly destinations through the HomoCulture Tour. He has developed a passion for discovering and sharing authentic lived experiences, educating about the LGBTQ community, and using both his photography and storytelling to produce inspiring content.Originally from the beautiful Okanagan Valley in the southern interior of British Columbia, Brian now lives in Vancouver, British Columbia. His personal interests include travel, photography, physical fitness, mixology, drag shows.
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