Stick It in Me! Injectable PrEP and You 

Long-lasting injectable PrEP like Apretude may be the key to defeating HIV and protecting our community. 

Cheeky titles aside, we are past due to dive into a game-changer that’s topping the world of HIV prevention: Injectable PrEP. Whether you’re part of the LGBTQ+ community or an ally, knowing about this innovative form of prevention is essential. So, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of what PrEP is, what injectable PrEP means, how it works, and how you can get your hands on it. 

A headline graphic reading, "Stick It In Me: Injectable PrEP & You" with a picture of author Dr. Kathya Chartre

What’s PrEP, anyway? 

PrEP, short for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, is a groundbreaking HIV prevention strategy. It involves taking a daily pill like Truvada (or its unbranded equivalent and alternatives) to drastically reduce the risk of HIV transmission. PrEP has been a game-changer in HIV prevention, providing an effective tool for individuals who are at higher risk of contracting HIV. It is also one of our best tools for wiping out the existence of new HIV diagnoses entirely, but unfortunately only 30% of people who could benefit from PrEP have access to it or have been prescribed it.  Part of Howard Brown’s mission is crafting a more compassionate tomorrow, and that includes access to PrEP in all of its forms, no matter your situation.

A graphic with the text "Pre Exposure Prophylaxis"

The Pill Problem

Now, let’s talk about the reality of daily pills. For some folks, taking a daily pill can be a challenge. Life gets busy, and we all know how easy it is to forget. Not to mention, for some people keeping pills secure and dry isn’t a possibility; unhoused people or people that live with other people might be at risk of having their medications go missing. And missing doses can reduce the effectiveness of PrEP, and nobody wants that. Or you simply might not be able to tolerate the side effects of pill-based PrEP. That’s okay too.  

Introducing Injectable PrEP

Injectable PrEP is the solution we’ve been needing! It’s like a superhero power-up for HIV prevention. Instead of taking a pill every day, you can get a shot of long-acting PrEP every two months. Yes, you read that right, every two months! It’s a game-changer for people who find it challenging to stick to a daily routine.  It ups the chances of a patient being able to stick with the medicine (pun intended), which results in decreased HIV transmission!

How Does It Work

Injectable PrEP, also known as Apretude, is essentially a re-tooled form of the anti-retroviral drug cabotegravir. Don’t worry, you won’t have to spell any of those words. This medication works by preventing the HIV virus from multiplying in your body. When you get the shot, it slowly releases the medications into your system over two months, providing continuous protection. Think of it like a flu shot. The best part is, Apretude is better than the best when it comes to protection. Recent studies have shown it to provide better protection against HIV when compared to the leading alternative, Truvada. Truvada has a 99% effective rate. So, it is safe to say, you’ll be safe on injectable PrEP. 

A graphic with the text "99% effective in preventing the spread of HIV"

Getting Your Injectable PrEP

Getting your hands on injectable PrEP is easier than ever. Here’s how you can do it: 

  • Find a PrEP-Friendly Provider: Look for healthcare providers in Chicago, like Howard Brown Health, who offer injectable PrEP. Many LGBTQ+ clinics and HIV centers are well-versed in this new form of prevention.
  • Assess Your Eligibility: Your provider will assess your risk factors and make sure injectable PrEP is the right choice for you. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and discuss your concerns and remember to advocate for yourself! You know what is best for you. 
  • Schedule Your Shots: Once you’re cleared for injectable PrEP, you’ll schedule appointments to receive the shots every two months. It’s as easy as a regular check-up! 
  • Remember, You’re in Control: Whether you choose daily PrEP or injectable PrEP, the power is in your hands. Pick the option that works best for your lifestyle and prioritize your sexual health. 

What If I Don’t Have Insurance, Or It Won’t Be Covered? 

Navigating insurance, or the lack of it, can be a beast for anyone, but especially so if that beast happens to be a new medication that insurance companies may not understand the need for. Recently, state and federal laws have mandated free PrEP for all, but the bills are hazy on whether or not that includes injectable PrEP. Luckily, Medicaid covers all forms of PrEP, especially the injectable variety. However, there are private insurance companies that still may not cover PrEP, or may only cover the cost of the medication, and not the cost of the associated lab work. Additionally, “PrEP for all” has come under attack as large pharmaceutical companies continue to pressure our government against giving their medications away for free. 

A graphic with the text "only 30% of those that could benefit from PrEP have been prescribed it"

Here at Howard Brown Health, we have a dedicated PrEP navigation team that will walk you through your options in a way that makes sense. Other states may have similar PrEP access programs, but not all. ViiV, the manufacturer of Apretude, will pay for the medication provided you meet the requirements, but labs are paid by the patient. If you have commercial insurance, you can obtain PrEP through a pharmacy benefit or a medical benefit.  

Overall, figuring out all the details can be a barrier to care for people, so our team of experts is available to help in both English and Español. We’ll get on a three-way call with you and your insurance company, and we’ll lay out your options for you in a way that makes sense. We are committed to getting you your PrEP, whatever it takes.

Will You Get The Jab? Let Us help.

Injectable PrEP is a game-changer in HIV prevention, offering a convenient and effective alternative to those burdensome daily pills. For those of us in Chicago, getting access to this innovative form of protection is easier than ever. Contact our team here at Howard Brown Health.  Don’t let HIV prevention be a hassle; take control of your sexual health with injectable PrEP. Stick it to HIV and stick it in with injectable PrEP—you’ve got this!  

A photo of Dr. Kathya Chartre, Immediate Care Medical Director at Howard Brown Health.

About The Author

I’m Dr. Kathya Charter (she/her/hers) and I am the Immediate Care Medical Director for Howard Brown Health, the largest LGBTQ+ healthcare organization in the Midwest! I was raised and received my education nearby in Chicago City, so I know how desperately culturally intelligent healthcare is needed in this part of the country. My entire career, I’ve been committed to the health of the systemically underserved communities among us. In school I had the honor of treating children in Honduras that are living with HIV, and I take the lessons I learned in those outreach programs with me to my position as a provider here at Howard Brown Health. As a proud person of Hispanic culture and heritage, I am dedicated to increased Latinx representation in the medical field, as well as increased access to healthcare for Latinx patients, y hablo español! Outside the health center, I am an avid foodie and runner, and I even enjoy the art of opera.  


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