Monday, September 26, 2016

How to get PrEP in Norway

Earlier this month I finally reached out to Helseutvalget here in Norway (a state-sponsored organization that works for the health of LGBT persons) and asked about the current state of PrEP following the EU/EEA decision to begin implementing Truvada prescriptions for preventing HIV infections.

Within two weeks and a day, I had my PrEP prescription and my first ninety-pill batch of Truvada.

So, for the benefit of other people here in Norway considering applying for PrEP, here's how I went about it.

  1. I e-mailed post (at) and asked them about the current state of PrEP in Norway and how I could get a prescription.
  2. Helseutvalget answered my questions and arranged for a Sjekkpunkt meeting, where I took a combined HIV/syphilis test and received my first consultation regarding PrEP.
  3. Helseutvalget forwarded my interest to an infection specialist at Akershus university hospital who set up an appointment for me by e-mail.
  4. I met with the infection specialist, had my second consultation confirming that I am among men with an increased risk of HIV infection due to my occasional barebacking (and intent to bareback in the foreseeable future), and received my first ninety-pill/ninety-day prescription for Truvada.
I sent my first inquiry on the 5th of September and had the pills in-hand on the 20th.

Me and one of my first three packets of Truvada.

Here are some things to keep in mind regarding Truvada/PrEP if you're interested or looking into it here in Norway:
  • Truvada/PrEP is currently fully subsidized by the state; the consultations and prescription were free of charge on my part; this may change as its use becomes more common
  • Truvada/PrEP is not guaranteed to prevent HIV-infections (but has a pretty good batting average) and as such should not be considered a replacement for condoms; Truvada also only works to prevent HIV and none of the other STIs
  • The long-term effects of Truvada are unknown; it is currently suspected that long-term use can cause kidney damage and increased chance of osteoporosis
  • Truvada for PrEP prescriptions are intended for persons who have an heightened risk of HIV infection, either due to barebacking or a partnership with an HIV-positive (but not yet undetectable) partner
  • Norway follows the EU/EEA guidelines for use, which means it can be used one of two ways:
    • Daily - one pill per day in combination with a meal
    • As needed - two pills taken with a meal at least two hours prior to possible HIV exposure, followed by one pill on each day of HIV exposure, and finished with one pill per day for two days following the last day of HIV exposure
Once you have used up your ninety pills, you must have a new consultation, which will include an HIV test prior to a renewed prescription.

Because of the danger of creating a Truvada-resistant HIV-strain, I believe you must take an HIV-test outside of the possible transition period (when people are infected with HIV,, they have a period during which they are infected, but will test as HIV-negative because they have not yet developed the antibodies that are detected by HIV-testing). Whoever consults you will inform you about this. 

Because it has been so long since I had sex (sadface), it was quicker for me to just take the HIV-test and get on the PrEP-wagon.

If you are interested in PrEP, I highly recommend contacting Helseutvalget and having a consultation with them (and don't be shy about your activities and interests; they can't address your needs if you don't tell about them).

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