THE LIBRARY

From the "What's Whats" to the "How-To's," discover answers to your queer and trans healthcare questions from FOLX clinicians, team, and community.


The articles contained in the the FOLX Library consist of generally available information and do not constitute medical advice, diagnosis, treatment.

STIs & HIV

BASICS

BASICS

BASICS

BASICS

BASICS

BASICS

BASICS

BASICS

BASICS

BASICS

BASICS

BASICS

HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. It is a virus that can weaken a person's immune system by attacking certain white blood cells. Some symptoms of a new HIV infection include fatigue, fever, swollen lymph nodes, muscle pain, mouth ulcers, and a rash. After someone first gets HIV, these symptoms can last for a few weeks.

If left untreated, HIV can cause Autoimmune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), though not everyone with HIV will develop AIDS. Although currently there is no cure for HIV, there are treatments available that prevent a person from developing symptoms and passing the infection on to other people. These medicines make it possible to live with HIV and manage it like other chronic conditions, such as diabetes or high blood pressure. Some people at risk for HIV chose to take a medication called PrEP to lower their chances of getting it.

People can get HIV by coming into contact with someone else's bodily fluids. The body fluids the virus lives in are: blood, semen, pre-ejaculate, vaginal fluids, rectal fluids, and human milk. To get HIV, these fluids would need to come into contact with a mucus membrane, an open cut or wound, or be injected into the bloodstream. This can happen while having vaginal, anal, or oral sex or using non-sterile needles.

If left untreated, HIV can cause Autoimmune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), though not everyone with HIV will develop AIDS.

Anywhere from 2-4 weeks after infection with HIV, you may see flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills, rash, night sweats, muscle aches, sore throat, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes, or mouth ulcers. However, some people who have HIV don't have any symptoms. So, it's important to get tested for HIV if you're at risk even if you feel fine.

PrEP stands for pre-exposure prophylaxis, which is a type of medication you can take before you're exposed to an infection, specifically HIV, to lower your chances of getting that infection. "PrEP" generally refers to a once-daily pill that is taken to lower your chances of getting HIV from sex or injectable drug use.

In the US, there are currently two different versions of PrEP available, known by the brand names Truvada and Descovy.

Both of these medications have been shown to lower your chances of getting HIV from receptive anal sex and injectable drug use. Right now, there is one generic version of Truvada available in the US. Descovy is only available as a brand name. Also, there haven't yet been enough studies to prove whether Descovy will reduce your chances of getting HIV if you have a vagina (whether you were born with one or have one now) and want to prevent yourself from getting HIV from receptive vaginal intercourse. However, Truvada has been studied and proven effective for people with penises and vaginas, and there are some studies examining the efficacy of Truvada for people receiving Gender Affirming Hormone Therapy and more are needed.

PrEP 2-1-1 or "on-demand" PrEP is an alternative method of PrEP that a 4-pill regimen taken "on-demand" rather than a daily pill. PrEP 2-1-1 is named for its dosing: 2 pills are taken 2-to-24 hours before sex, 1 pill 24 hours after the initial dose, and 1 pill another 24 hours later. If PrEP 2-1-1 is being used for more than a single sex encounter, you should continue taking 1 PrEP tablet every 24 hours until 2 days after your last sex encounter.

PrEP 2-1-1 is recommended for anyone having anal sex, as the drug is not shown to be as effective in preventing HIV for vaginal/front hole sex.

If taken in its correct intervals, PrEP 2-1-1 is as effective as PrEP.

EFFECTS

EFFECTS

EFFECTS

EFFECTS

EFFECTS

EFFECTS

EFFECTS

EFFECTS

EFFECTS

EFFECTS

EFFECTS

EFFECTS

Some of the most common side effects of PrEP can include headache, nausea, vomiting, rash and loss of appetite. And while less common, some people on PrEP have seen long-term side effects impacting liver health, kidney health, and loss of bone density.

While you should try your hardest to keep up with PrEP daily, it is generally forgiving and still effective if you're remembering at least 5 or more doses each week. However, PrEP 2-1-1 is not as effective if you miss a day.

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