Pre-exposure prophylaxis (or PrEP) is medicine taken to prevent getting HIV. PrEP is highly effective for preventing HIV when taken as prescribed.
PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV from sex by about 99%.
PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV from injection drug use by at least 74%.
PrEP is less effective when not taken as prescribed. Since PrEP only protects against HIV, condom use is still important for the protection against other STDs. Condom use is also important to help prevent HIV if PrEP is not taken as prescribed.
Answering your questions about PrEP
Are there different types of PrEP?
PrEP can be pills or shots.
There are two pills approved for use as PrEP: Truvada® and Descovy®. Truvada® is for people at risk through sex or injection drug use. Descovy® is for people at risk through sex. Descovy is not for people assigned female at birth who are at risk for HIV through receptive vaginal sex.
Apretude is the only shot approved for use as PrEP. Apretude is for people at risk through sex who weigh at least 77 pounds (35 kg).
Is PrEP safe?
PrEP is safe, but some people experience side effects like diarrhea, nausea, headache, fatigue, and stomach pain. These side effects usually go away over time.
Is PrEP right for me?
- You have had anal or vaginal sex in the past 6 months and you:
- have a sexual partner with HIV (especially if the partner has an unknown or detectable viral load),
- have not consistently used a condom, or
- have been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease in the past 6 months.
- You inject drugs and you:
- have an injection partner with HIV, or
- share needles, syringes, or other drug injection equipment (for example, cookers).
- You have been prescribed PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) and you:
- report continued risk behavior, or
- have used multiple courses of PEP.
How long does PrEP take to work?
- For males or those assigned male at birth, PrEP pills reach maximum protection from HIV at about 7 days of daily use.
- For for females or those assigned female at birth and injection drug use, PrEP pills reach maximum protection at about 21 days of daily use.
How can I pay for PrEP?
Most insurance plans and state Medicaid programs cover PrEP. If you don’t have insurance or Medicaid coverage, there are other programs that provide PrEP for free or at a reduced cost which you can discuss with our PrEP Coordinator.
How can I start PrEP at PALSS?
Step 1 You must take an HIV test to make sure you don’t have HIV.
Step 2 Meet with our PrEP Coordinator to begin the Enrollment process.
Step 3 You must get labs drawn and complete the enrollment process.
Step 4 Come back for a 30-day follow-up to ensure PrEP is working.
Step 5 Start your 3-month follow-ups.
Why do I need to take PrEP as prescribed?
- You must take PrEP as prescribed for it to work.
- If you do not take PrEP as prescribed, there may not be enough medicine in your bloodstream to block the virus.
- The right amount of medicine in your bloodstream can stop HIV from taking hold and spreading in your body.
What if I need to stop taking PrEP?
- There are several reasons why people stop taking PrEP:
- Your risk of getting HIV becomes low because of changes in your life.
- You don’t want to take a pill as prescribed or often forget to take your pills.
- You can’t visit your health care provider to receive your shots routinely as recommended.
- You have side effects from the medicine that are interfering with your life.
- Blood tests show that your body is reacting to PrEP in unsafe ways.