Bangkok may be one of the most popular destinations for tourists to get PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis). But according to this report by Avert, almost one in three men who have sex with men in Bangkok are HIV-positive. A statistic that suggests PrEP use in Bangkok itself is not prevalent enough.
So we’ve specially put together this guide on where and how to get PrEP in Bangkok with the help of some industry insiders. Catered to both locals and those visiting, here is a comprehensive guide on where and how to get PrEP in Bangkok.
PrEP 101: What It Is
PrEP is just starting to gain traction as a preventative measure, even though it’s been around for more than a decade. At the moment, PrEP is a catchall term for any drug that stops HIV from multiplying and infecting you.
But there’s actually only one drug on the market right now that’s approved as a pre-exposure prophylaxis. It’s a combination of two drugs called tenofovir and emtricitabine. But, you don’t have to worry about remembering those!
There’s only one name-brand PrEP on the market, called Truvada, as well as generic options which use the same active ingredients. In Bangkok, you may find it called Teno-Em.
Soon, though, you may be able to find a new version of PrEP that will be marketed as Descovy. This produces higher levels of the active drug in your cells without putting your kidneys at more risk. It’s already FDA-approved, so it should be on the market soon.
PrEP 101: How It Works
The first step in getting PrEP is to first take a HIV/STI test first. Afterwards, you should be able to get your prescription in under an hour. Once you have it, just ensure that you take it once a day.
When you take PrEP every day, your chance of HIV infection drops by more than 90 percent. Contrary to popular belief, it is still strongly recommended that you use a condom during sex.
Once you’re on PrEP, it’s important that you keep taking it every day. This optimises its effectiveness, so you won’t have to wonder if it’s working correctly. At the same time, make sure to get tested for HIV every three months. Even with PrEP, there’s still a chance you could become infected.
With Bangkok having both a world-renowned gay community and an alarming rate of HIV infection, it should comfort you to know that PrEP is especially easy to get here. Gay men come from as far as Beijing and South Korea to get as much as a six-month prescription at a low cost.
There are several clinics scattered across the city that offer PrEP. Some cater to visitors and expats, with English speaking staff. Others are more suited for locals, as their teams generally only speak Thai.
Where To Get PrEP: Catered To English Speakers
Pulse Clinic is a popular health clinic with multiple locations in Southeast Asia, from Hong Kong to Kuala Lumpur. There are 11 branches in Thailand, 6 of which are in Bangkok.
Popular with tourists, you can have a PrEP prescription in 30 minutes at Pulse Silom, one of their most popular branches. But make sure you have an appointment if you want it quick. They’ll test you for HIV, Hepatitis B, and syphilis, on top of testing your kidneys. You can get both Truvada and Descovy as well as the generic versions at Pulse.
Cost: The test, medical consultation, and one month of PrEP starts at 4,500THB.
Hours: Daily, generally 10:00AM to 7:00PM but it varies by branch.
Boasting a team of only HIV specialist doctors and technical nurses, foreigners can rest easy knowing that the HIV specialist doctors at Safe Clinic are all proficient English speakers. Safe Clinic also has an in-house lab technician, which means that you can receive your results directly without having your results outsourced to external labs.
As of December 2019, Safe Clinic is recognised in an MOU with partners including USAID, the Thai Red Cross AIDS Research Centre, and FHI 360. In this status, Safe Clinic operates in a uniquely accredited capacity with certified staff and HIV specialist doctors.
Conveniently located near Asoke BTS or Sukhumvit MRT, Safe Clinic is open till late which makes means expats can easily make a trip there after work.
Cost: 30 tablets of PrEP cost between ฿1,000 to ฿3,200.
Hours: Daily, 12:00 am – 9:00 pm.
Location:Room 314 floor 3 , Times Square Building Mall 246 Sukhumvit Rd, Khwaeng Khlong Toei, Khet Khlong Toei, Bangkok 10110
Telephone: 083-534-4555, 02-006-8887
Thai Red Cross Anonymous Clinic
This may come as a surprise to you but the Thai Red Cross Anonymous Clinic is actually very foreigner friendly. The staff there can converse in English and it is fast becoming a popular destination among expats based in Bangkok.
The Thai Red Cross Anonymous Clinic holds the distinction of being the first HIV voluntary counseling and testing clinic in Asia, having opened in 1991. While it offers a wide range of tests for HIV and other STIs, its main draw is that you can get a test done here anonymously.
Cost: A HIV test costs 200 baht and takes around an hour for regular services. The Thai Red Cross has recently launched a new service called Xpress in which clients can book their services online and can opt to receive the results via email, SMS, or LINE without the need to wait at the clinic for the results. This clinic also provides PrEP at an affordable rate of only 15 baht/day (includes all basic labs). Keep in mind that going after hours means you will incur an additional fee.
Hours: Testing services – Monday to Friday, 7:30AM to 3:00PM
Prescriptions – Monday to Friday, 8:30AM to 4:00PM
After hours – Wednesday and Friday, 4:30PM to 7:30PM and Saturday, 8:30AM to 4:00PM
Location: 104 Ratchadamri Road, Pathumwan, Bangkok
Where To Get PrEP: Catered To Thais
Bangkok Health Hub
The Bangkok Health Hub offers comprehensive screening and prevention services for HIV. You can not only find HIV testing and PrEP at this location, but also counseling to help you through any concerns or issues you may have.
Cost: A 20-minute test costs 500THB. You can then purchase a one-month prescription for 1,000THB for generic PrEP, or 3,000THB for Truvada.
Hours: Monday to Saturday, 12:00PM to 8:00PM
Location: 3rd Floor, Silom 64 Building, Suriyawong, Bangkok
Rainbow Sky Association Thailand
One of this clinic’s claims to fame is its participation in rolling out Princess PrEP, a pilot program that offers free PrEP through community-based organizations. However, this free service is only available to Thais.
Cost: Free for Thais
Hours: Monday to Friday, 9:00AM to 6:00PM
Saturday to Sunday, 12:00PM to 5:00PM
Location: 12/3 Pak Thang Road, Lat Phrao, Chatuchak, Bangkok
Silom Community Clinic
One of the draws of Silom Community Clinic is that they are open till late, which is especially useful if you need to go after work. What’s more, their testing and prescription process usually takes less than an hour.
Cost: A month of Truvada PrEP costs around 800 baht.
Hours: Tuesday to Saturday, 4:00PM to 9:00PM
Location: 12th Floor, Tropical Medicine Hospital, Ratchawithi Road, Ratchathewi, Bangkok
Staying Safe from HIV
HIV isn’t as scary as it used to be, as long as you take the proper measures to prevent it!
A full month of PrEP can be yours in no more than an hour, for a low cost as well. Getting PrEP and taking it takes little effort, and it does a lot more than just keep you from getting HIV.
With PrEP, you’re not getting HIV, and you’re not giving it to anyone else. Condoms are great, but with PrEP you don’t always have to have a pill on hand whenever you want to do the deed. Take it every day, and you’re effectively protecting all of your future partners from contracting HIV as well.
If you know of any other venues that offer PrEP in Bangkok, do let us know in the comments!
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