What is PrEP?
PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) is a medicine that can be taken as HIV prevention prior to exposure to the virus. It is used by HIV negative people to prevent infection. When used correctly, PrEP effectively prevents HIV infection through sexual contact between men, heterosexual sex and injection drug use. The World Health Organization (WHO), and other global health entities, recommend the use of pre-exposure prophylaxis as a prevention method for people with the highest HIV risk.
Who is it for?
PrEP is recommended for people who do not have HIV but have a high risk of getting HIV. For men having sex with men, this includes HIV-negative men who are sexually active with multiple sexual partners. Additionally they have anal sex and do not use a condom during every intercourse. Recent sexually transmitted infections such as gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis are also indications for PrEP use. Read more about when to use PrEP on the Checkpoint section of this site.
You do not need to use the pre-exposure prophylaxis if your partner is HIV positive on HIV medication and their viral load is undetectable. A person living with HIV does not transmit the virus even during unprotected sex, when they are on HIV medication and their viral load is undetectable.
How is PrEP used?
The WHO recommends taking one pill every day at the same time. The medication is generally quite well tolerated and it does not have many serious side effects. Men having sex with men can also use the medicine on an on demand basis. Read more specific instructions about this method on the Checkpoint section of this website.
How can I get PrEP in Finland?
The National Institute for Health and Welfare released national guidelines for PrEP on 17 April 2019. You can find the guidelines (in Finnish) here. The health care professional involved in organizing the PrEP treatment should have knowledge of HIV, STIs and sexual behavior. They do not have to be HIV specialists. Just in case, you can print and bring the basics of PrEP leaflet (in Finnish) to your appointment as background information. In the public healthcare system, for example infectious disease and STI policlinics can prescribe PrEP. Generic PrEP medicines entered the Finnish market in the summer 2019. Read the Checkpoint section of this website to see how much PrEP costs in Finland at the moment.
It is important to test kidney function (creatine test), do an HIV test and test for other STIs before starting the medication. Before starting PrEP, it is very important to be sure that you do not have HIV. A recent HIV infection shows up in the tests 4-12 weeks from transmission, so you should avoid high risk situations during that time. After starting the medication, regular laboratory tests including HIV and other STI testing every three months is essential. PrEP should always be used under medical supervision.
The medicines are paid fully by the user and not covered by Finnish social security. It is still possible to get even more affordable PrEP by asking your doctor here in Finland for an EU prescription and buying the medicine from abroad (within the EU) with that prescription.
More up-to-date information about PrEP, buying it from abroad and the generic medications on the Checkpoint section of this website.