What is PrEP?
Pre–Exposure Prophylaxis, or PrEP, is a medication that can prevent HIV infection when taken daily. Studies show that PrEP is up to 99% effective when taken every single day. PrEP is another way to reduce your risk for HIV, along with talking about your status with your partners and consistently using condoms and lube. Currently, Truvada is the only drug approved by the FDA for use as PrEP.
Is PrEP right for me?
PrEP may be a good option if you want an effective way to prevent HIV transmission and add more peace of mind to your life. PrEP is best for times in your life when you are at higher risk for HIV, such as when you are having sex with multiple partners, are part of an open relationship, or have an HIV+ sex or injection partner.
If you are HIV-, PrEP may be right if you…
- Have one or more HIV+ sexual or injection partners.
- Use condoms sometimes, rarely, or never.
- Sometimes or never use condoms with at-risk partners.
- Participate in sex work.
Additionally, the following groups have special considerations:
For gay/bi men and trans people:
- Have a recent STI diagnosis
For at-risk women:
- History of inconsistent/no condom use with a partner known to be at substantial risk for HIV (i.e. a man who has sex with other men or a person who injects drugs)
For those who inject drugs:
- Live in high HIV prevalence area or network
- Have one or more HIV+ injecting partners
- Share injection equipment (needles and works)
Being on PrEP doesn’t just mean taking a pill. PrEP is part of a prevention program involving taking medication every day and being screened for HIV and other STIs regularly. PrEP only protects against HIV. It does not prevent herpes, syphilis, any other STIs, or pregnancy.
How do I get PrEP?
Truvada, the medication used as PrEP, is a prescription drug, so you have to go to a medical provider to get it. If your partner takes it, you cannot share. You must get your own prescription.
If you think PrEP may be right for you, here are a few tips for talking with your provider.
- Be clear. Tell your provider that you’re interested in PrEP. Bring this pamphlet with you to your appointment as a way to start the conversation.
- Ask questions! It’s your health, and you have a right to take charge of your own health decisions.
- Don’t be shy. Give your medical provider all the details about your life that could be important to your health, especially your sexual health.
- If your provider is unfamiliar with PrEP, direct them to these pages from the CDC: cdc.gov/hiv/pdf/PrEPProviderSupplement2014.pdf, cdc.gov/hiv/pdf/guidelines/PrEPguidelines2014.pdf, or have them call the PrEP Support Hotline for Clinicians: 1.855.HIV.PrEP (1.855.448.7737) 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Pacific Time.