By: Jennifer McMillen Smith, MSSA, LISW-S, Division of Infectious Disease and medically reviewed by Ann Avery, Infectious Disease Physician at Metrohealth Medical Center
Taking PrEP can almost eliminate the risk of catching HIV — but can you afford it?
PrEP is sold under the name brand Truvada. Taking Truvada can reduce the odds of an HIV infection by up to 99%, according to research studies.
A recent report on National Public Radio said PrEP costs $2,000 a month if you have to pay the full retail price. Fortunately, you are highly unlikely to ever pay full retail for PrEP. There are just so many coverage and assistance options out there!
Here’s a look at ways to get a price break on Truvada:
If you have a job with health insurance that includes prescription coverage, Truvada is likely included. Ask your boss who to contact to find out more on your prescription coverage. Usually, there’s a toll-free number you can call.
Some prescription policies have a deductible or co-pay that can be costly. When you’re talking to your health insurance representative, ask them first if they cover Truvada. Then ask about “out-of-pocket” expenses to figure out how much cash you’ll have to pay.
Don’t be scared if the out of pocket expenses look like a lot, there are easy to access programs from the maker of Truvada to help you cover those costs. We’ll talk about them later.
If you’re unemployed or cannot afford health insurance, the federal Medicaid program can help pay for Truvada. Signing up for Medicaid can seem daunting, but actually, it’s pretty straightforward and there are people out there who can help you through the process.
Come join our private, stigma-free, supportive community.
Health management tools with medication & appointment reminders.
Social networking in a community conversation & private chats.
Gilead Sciences, the company that makes Truvada, has a program to help people cover the cost of co-pays with up to $7,200 a year. This link provides more details. They also have a program to help those without insurance to access PrEP at no cost to them.
Walgreen’s community pharmacies also work to secure financial assistance on prescription purchases for their clients. Here in Cleveland, you can call 216 416 7680 to find out more.
See this page at Poz.com for a big list of programs that help out with PrEP costs.
Finding PrEP in Northeast Ohio
North East Ohio is lucky to have two directories of PrEP clinics and providers who are ready to assist you in accessing PrEP: www.clevelandprep.com and www.ohioprep.org. Here in Cleveland, we also have PrEP navigators who are trained and excited to help you start, afford, and stay on PrEP for as long as you’d like. Call 216-714-2223 to talk with a PrEP navigator today!
Prescriptions aren’t the only expense
Doctors will want to make sure you are HIV negative before they prescribe Truvada. That means you’ll have to get tested for HIV. You will also need follow-ups every 3-6 months after to rerun labs and refill your medications.
The cost of these visits and labs can add up quickly, so make sure you don't overlook them. This is where Gilead’s copay card really comes in handy for those who qualify.
Finally, you can email OhioPrEP at [email protected] for help with PrEP financing.
Remember: PrEP does not protect against other STIs
PrEP is designed to do one thing: Prevent an HIV infection in your body. It doesn’t protect against any other sexually transmitted infections. Moreover, there’s a really small chance that you can get infected even if you’re taking PrEP. It’s very rare, but it’s why medical experts still encourage you to consider practicing smarter sex— even if you’re taking PrEP.
PrEP can be incredibly helpful. It can also be affordable with the right combination of assistance and insurance programs for you.