Descovy is the latest medication available to prevent HIV. It currently offers the same efficacy rate as generic Truvada and is often approved by private insurance plans. Descovy is a daily tablet prescribed to adolescents and adults at risk of contracting HIV. Descovy for PrEP is highly effective at lessening the chance of acquiring HIV during sex, sitting at approximately 99%. It’s essential to follow the instructions carefully as improper use can directly impact the efficacy of the medication.
Descovy is similar to the generic Truvada but differs in the side effects. Descovy can help people avoid the adverse effects on kidneys and bone health without sacrificing efficacy. Currently, this medication holds a high success rate at preventing transmission (at 99%). Another significant difference between Descovy and other PrEP medications is the accessibility and approval through private insurance companies. Most individual insurance providers accept Descovy under prescription medications.
What is the Makeup of Descovy?
This medication uses tenofovir alafenamide and emtricitabine as PrEP. This drug is an antiretroviral agent that works to decrease the ability of HIV from entering the body. It also works by blocking enzymes within the virus, preventing replication and reproduction. HIV can not build within the host without reproducing, stopping it from infecting the individual.
How Do I Take Descovy?
This medicine is taken orally, once a day. The tablet does take seven days to reach optimal protection within the body. Patients should use alternative barrier protection (like condoms) for the first seven days. Descovy is not an on-demand drug. It should only be taken once daily, as prescribed. If you’re looking for an on-demand schedule, consider using another prescription. PrEP on demand is much less effective than a daily routine.
Although this medication is not recommended for assigned-female-at-birth, anyone taking this medication for vaginal or injectable protection should wait at least 21 days for maximum protection.
Who Should Use This Medication?
Descovy as PrEP is beneficial to anyone currently at an increased risk of HIV due to specific lifestyle or behaviors. These might include infrequent condom use during anal sex, sex with an HIV-positive individual that does not have an undetectable viral load from treatment, or sexual relations with someone you don’t know the HIV status of.
Should anyone not take Descovy?
Anyone assigned-female-at-birth (AFAB) at an increased risk of HIV from vaginal or frontal sex should not take Descovy. Unfortunately, the effectiveness of this drug has not been studied for AFAB individuals. Likewise, people at risk of HIV from drug injection should also not take Descovy. This demographic has also not been studied at this time.
Regardless of which medication for PrEP, individuals must be HIV-negative. Anyone HIV-positive taking PrEP could cause potentially fatal effects (like drug resistance in treatment). Having a negative HIV test before starting your prescription is mandatory.
What Side Effects are There?
Most side effects with Descovy are mild and short-lived. These symptoms include fatigue, headache, diarrhea, and nausea. Patients can manage these side effects through diet or over-the-counter medications. Most of these symptoms will resolve within a few days or weeks of starting the medication. Any symptoms lasting longer than a few weeks should be evaluated by a doctor. If you experience any severe or long-lasting symptoms while taking PrEP, always contact your doctor.
How do I get a prescription?
If you believe you’re at high risk of contracting HIV, PrEP may be a suitable option for minimizing your risk. You’ll need to contact a doctor or medical professional to determine whether these medications are optimal for your lifestyle. All patients using PrEP will need to complete an HIV evaluation, confirming a negative result before starting. Likewise, most practitioners will request blood work and STI panels before starting.
Patients will need to follow up with their doctor every three months if they’d like to extend the prescription. These follow-up appointments help ensure user safety, confirm HIV status, and evaluate any STI testing that needs monitoring. Although this medication is meant for ongoing protection, users can stop taking Descovy if their lifestyle or risk level changes. Always talk to your doctor before starting or stopping PrEP.
Changes might include:
- Ending relationships with HIV-positive partners.
- Refraining from injection drug use.
- Confirming the HIV status of a new partner before unprotected sex.