1. PrEP in the Netherlands?
PrEP is available in the Netherlands since 2016. Any doctor can prescribe PrEP but it is not covered by health insurers. However if you can afford it, this is the easiest way to get PrEP: get a prescription for PrEP from your doctor and buy the pills at the pharmacy. (You’ll pay the full price, which is around €550 for 30 pills.)
Free PrEP is only available in the Netherlands in the H-TEAM’s AMPrEP study, conduct by the Public Health Service of Amsterdam (GGD Amsterdam). In total, 376 men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender people are participating in this study.
2. Can I buy generic PrEP in the Netherlands?
There are some good, reliable options of getting generic PrEP. ‘Generic’ means pills with the same ingredients but without the brand name Truvada. The price varies from €30 to €100 a month (if taken daily).
IMPORTANT: Independent PrEP-use has to be done responsibly. We have developed a protocol for safe use of generic PrEP. In the protocol we explain which tests you need to do when and where you can have them done, among other things.
There are 5 options in the Netherlands at the moment:
Get a PrEP prescription from your doctor and buy the generic pills online. I Want PrEP Now (UK) has a list of their trusted online pharmacies.
Officially, online pharmacies are not allowed to deliver to the Netherlands. Shipments may be confiscated by customs, which means you won’t receive your pills. However, if you have friends in the UK, you can have the pharmacy deliver your pills to them. They can then send the pills to you, or you can visit them to pick the pills up yourself.
PrEPnu works closely with Silom PULSE Clinic in Bangkok, Thailand. They are our preferred supplier. For ordering PrEP online at this clinic you need a valid prescription from a Dutch GP or recent test results (see PrEPnu Protocol) and a copy of your passport when filling out their order form, select the option “PrEPnu Netherlands 3 bottles” at selection “PrEP*” for the special PrEPnu price of €30 per bottle of 30 pills (excluding shipping and transaction costs). You must submit your prescription together with a copy of your passport when ordering. Need help? Send us a message.
If you’re travelling to Bangkok, you can make an appointment at the Silom PULSE Clinic. They offer full sexual health services including PrEP. You can legally take home up to ten bottles (with 30 pills each) for personal use.
If you live in the Netherlands with (also) the nationality of a country where generic PrEP is available to be purchased or imported with a prescription (for example Australia, Thailand, South Africa, India, United Kingdom, United States of America), you can buy the pills in any clinic, pharmacy or online and bring them into the Netherlands in person. with a prescription proven for your personal use. The maximum amount is 300 pills each time.
If you are travelling to countries where generic PrEP pills are available to be purchased in local clinics or pharmacies (e.g. Thailand, South Africa, India), you can buy the pills and bring them into the Netherlands in person with a prescription proven for your personal use. The maximum amount is 300 pills each time.
If you are a resident of the United States of America, you can use this PrEP locator to find available PrEP; you may also be eligible for Gilead’s Truvada for PrEP Medication Assistance Program. You can bring maximum 300 pills each time into the Netherlands in person with a prescription proven for your personal use.
3. What is PrEP?
PrEP is a pill that prevents you from getting HIV. PrEP stands for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis. The pill (Truvada) contains two substances (Tenofovir and Emtricitabine) that prevent HIV infecting the body. Truvada was originally designed to treat HIV.
PrEP provides excellent protection against HIV, even if you’d forget to use a condom.
4. How does PrEP work?
If you protect yourself with PrEP and you are exposed to HIV, PrEP prevents HIV from entering your cells and replicating. Therefore you will remain HIV negative. PrEP is only effective when there is a sufficient amount of the active substances in your blood before you are exposed to HIV.
5. How is PrEP taken?
PrEP mostly consists of taking a pill called Truvada once a day. But it can also be taken around sexual risks events. (See FAQ “Does PrEP have to be taken everyday?”)
6. What are the benefits of PrEP?
Sex is fantastic, but you don’t always make sensible decisions once you’re all excited. PrEP protects you against HIV, even when you don’t manage to use a condom, provided that you take your pills as prescribed.
When you take PrEP, you will get checked for HIV and STIs at least every three months. PrEP only protects against HIV, in contrast to condoms that also protect against other STIs. By getting yourself checked for HIV and other STIs regularly, you can get treatment in an early stage if needed.
7. Does PrEP have to be taken everyday?
Taking PrEP on a daily basis is the most standard. However, PrEP is also effective when taken around the time you have sex. This is known as intermittent use and may be an option for people who plan their sexual activities well. With intermittent use you take a double dose (two Truvade pills) 2 to 24 hours BEFORE sex, and a single dose each of the two days (24 hours and 48 hours) after sex.
8. Does PrEP work?
Yes, it really works! Several studies across the world have shown that PrEP is highly effective in preventing HIV. To be effective PrEP has to be taken according the prescribed schedule. Regularity and punctuality are crucial.
9. How soon is it effective?
The time it takes for PrEP to be fully protective depends on several factors. Research shows that when used daily, it takes 4 to 7 days before the substances reach sufficient levels in the blood and the rectum. It takes more time to be effective in the vagina and the uterus. Vaginal protection is mostly reached after 3 weeks. Intermittent use of PrEP will only be effective in the blood and rectum when taken according to the prescribed schedule. Protection in the vagina with intermittent use has yet to be fully studied.
10. Are there any side effects?
Most people who take PrEP don’t experience side effects. 1 in 10 people experience mild side effects like nausea, tiredness, indigestion and headache. They usually go away on their own within a few weeks.
Tenofovir (one of the substances of Truvada) can result in a decrease in both kidney function and bone density and therefore, PrEP users are regularly monitored. PrEP studies have shown that these side effects are temporary: your body will recover once you stop taking PrEP.
11. Should I discuss PrEP with my doctor?
If you are considering to start PrEP, it is highly recommended that you discuss this with your family doctor or a doctor at the STI clinic. They will be able to help you to decide if PrEP is right for you. They will give you a few tests including the most suitable HIV test and a kidney function test.
*It is important to be absolutely sure that you DO NOT have HIV before taking PrEP..
12. How can I support PrEPnu?
You can support PrEPnu with a financial contribution. All gifts will be used for making PrEP affordably accessible in The Netherlands.