Many people rely on regular medication, and this includes PrEP – which you take daily to prevent you from acquiring HIV. Even if you’re not meeting up with people you don’t know via apps (which, by the way, is not recommended at this time), you may continue having sex with the partner you live with and need a steady supply.
Close to 155,000 people in the U.S. currently take PrEP. Here are some alternatives to consider if you don’t want to, or can’t, leave home.
1. Your local pharmacy
“Most pharmacies now have home delivery options and it would be worthwhile for PrEP patients to call their pharmacy to ask about their options before going in-person to a brick-and-mortar pharmacy,” says Edwin Corbin-Gutierrez of NASTAD, a leading non-profit association of public health officials who administer HIV programs in the U.S.
CVS offers home delivery options for all its medications. Kroger is another household-name brand. Kroger pharmacies are “temporarily waiving fees for prescription delivery via mail or courier.”
“Regarding clinical visits and labs, there are several tele-PrEP services that allow patients to do a virtual visit with a provider to get PrEP,” Corbin-Gutierrez told LGBTQ Nation. “There are several of these services available through state health departments (in Iowa and Louisiana, for example). And community organizations have also extended their services to include tele-PrEP.”
Launched in 2016, Nurx is a commercial telehealth provider that focuses on providing ongoing medication such as PrEP (Truvada and Descovy) to its service users. With PrEP, it states that “99% of our patients pay nothing for the medication, and we’ll work to make the tests affordable.”
It also helps you sort out the insurance or to join relevant assistance programs.
You have to undertake an online consultation and, if eligible for PrEP, are sent lab tests to perform at home (you mail them back to a lab for results).
There’s a fee for the lab tests, starting at $129 if you’re uninsured or $35 for those with insurance. If you don’t like the idea of home-testing, Nurx can point you in the direction of labs such as LabCorp or Quest Diagnostics local to you.
Available as an app or website, Nurx says it currently operates in, “28 states and D.C., covering around 85% of the U.S. population.” It currently can’t send home-testing kits out in New York due to local legislation prohibiting this.
Launched in 2018, MISTR is another telehealth provider dedicated to providing PrEP. You can consult a physician online and complete required lab tests from home for a fee of $99 (the service is free in California, Florida, and several other states). MISTR helps both those with insurance and those without, pointing the latter in the direction of assistance programs to cover the ongoing monthly PrEP fees.
If you’re new to PrEP, MISTR currently operates in every state but New York. It can also arrange regular lab tests after you start PrEP. If you already have a subscription but your regular pharmacy doesn’t deliver, MISTR will take care of free delivery to anywhere in the United States (again, except for New York).
TinRX is an LGBTQ-owned online pharmacy that offers a PrEP service similar to Nurx and MISTR. You first have a consultation with an online pharmacist to decide if PrEP is right for you. Again, you’re then sent a home-testing kit to check that you’re HIV negative (PrEP is only for people who are HIV negative).
Once these results have been processed, TinRX will fill and ship your medication in discreet packaging and automatically refill each month. TinRX has two physical pharmacies in California (including the Castro in San Francisco). Its online services operate across most of the U.S.
Plushcare is a San Francisco-headquartered online telemedicine service that offers PrEP and other services across the U.S. Its chief executive, Ryan McQuaid, told the San Francisco Chronicle that the company has seen a three-fold increase in demand recently.
To get PrEP, you’ll undergo an online consultation (with an initial consultation fee starting at $99 for those without insurance) and be advised on the best treatment plan. You can chat with a doctor via video on your smartphone. Unlike other telehealth companies mentioned here, Plushcare doesn’t send out home-testing kits but will refer you to a Quest Diagnostics or LabCorp collection site for lab work.
For more information on how to get PrEP, NASTAD operates the website Prepcost.org, which can help guide you towards PrEP access depending on your income and location. Similarly, Preplocator.org, is powered by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Prevention Information Network (NPIN).
Finally, if you’re not sure what PrEP services are available in your state, there’s also PleasePrEPMe, a community-based service program offering resources in every state.