Is PrEP Safe to Take?

For most guys, PrEP is very safe to take, and very easy on the system. In fact, most of us won’t experience any side effects at all, and for those who do experience side effects, they tend to be minor (like nausea) and temporary. Experiences of poz guys who take HIV treatment reflect that this med is safe and light on side-effects. In fact, this is one of the primary reasons Truvada was selected as the first drug for major PrEP research: it was already being taken by a large number of gay guys for HIV treatment.

For most of us, PrEP has one very common side effect: peace of mind!

Researchers report that less than 1% of PrEP users will experience some nausea, and unintentional weight loss; an even SMALLER number of users will experience more significant side effects such as minimal decreases in white blood cell counts, kidney creatinine clearance, and / or bone density. In these cases, studies have shown that these side effects reversed after PrEP discontinuation. If you want to compare PrEP against another really well known drug most of us take pretty frequently, think about this: in January 2016, HIV researchers at UCLA released a major study of 15,490 PrEP users, and compared their side effects to 61,947 daily aspirin users. These researchers found that PrEP favourably compared to aspirin in terms of user safety. To date, there have been no reported PrEP-associated hospitalizations or deaths. To compare, aspirin, which is also well tolerated by most individuals, is associated with clinically significant increases in risk with several serious illness- including strokes and gastrointestinal bleeding. When deciding if PrEP is right for you, it’s important to remember that weighing risks and benefits can be complex. We at HIM believe that YOU know best whether potential side effects outweigh the benefits of taking PrEP. One reason it’s important to have a knowledgeable care provider while you’re taking PrEP is that they may be able help with minor side effects, and will monitor you closely for more serious side effects, and make sure you’re getting your HIV and STI tests every three months. Also remember that PrEP is not a lifetime commitment- PrEP can be stopped when guys feel like they are no longer at risk, or if they decide they prefer other safer sex methods like condoms, or if they develop any rare but serious side effect. HIV positive guys need to take medication for the rest of their lives, even if they have side effects.