PrEP stands for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis. PrEP is a medication taken by people who don’t have HIV, but who are at high risk of getting infected. When taken as prescribed, PrEP is very effective (estimated 99%) at preventing HIV infection.
What is PrEP?
PrEP is a combination of two anti-HIV medications, tenofovir and emtricitabine, sold under the brand name “Truvada.” It is one pill, taken once a day taken by HIV negative people to prevent HIV infection. Other anti-HIV drugs are being studied to find out if they can be used as PrEP.
How effective is PrEP?
When taken every day as prescribed, PrEP is estimated to provide at least 99% protection against HIV infection for sexual transmission among men who have sex with men. PrEP also has demonstrated efficacy in protection against HIV transmission for injection drug users and for heterosexual men and women. PrEP does not protect you from other STDs.
Is PrEP for me?
The federal guidelines recommend PrEP for certain HIV-negative persons who are at elevated risk for exposure to HIV. These include the following:
- If you are in a sexual relationship with a person of unknown HIV status and you don’t regularly use condoms
- If you are in a sexual relationship with an HIV-positive person, whether or not you consistently use condoms
- If you are in a sexual relationship with a person that you know is at risk for exposure to HIV (such as someone who injects drugs or has sex with other people besides you)
- If you are male and have anal sex with men without condoms
- If you inject drugs
- If you’ve recently had a sexually transmitted infection, such as gonorrhea or syphilis
- If you have an HIV-positive partner and are considering getting pregnant
What are the side effects and safety?
PrEP is generally well-tolerated. About 40% of patients may experience minor side-effects in the first month, such as upset stomach, but for most patients these symptoms resolve within 1-2 months Most people taking PrEP do not experience substantial side effects, although it is important to have your doctor monitor for rare instances of kidney function problems, which can be easily resolved. In terms of safety, one study has estimated PrEP is as safe as aspirin.
How soon does PrEP start working?
According to the CDC, when taken every day as prescribed, “PrEP reaches maximum protection from HIV for anal receptive sex at about seven days. For other sexual activities, including insertive anal sex, vaginal sex, and for injection drug use, PrEP reaches maximum protection at about 20 days of daily use.”
How do I get PrEP?
Using the search engine in the PrEP Locator, search for a location near you to find where you can get a PrEP prescription. Make an appointment with a health care provider to find out if PrEP is right for you.
How do I pay for PrEP?
The cost of PrEP is covered by nearly all health insurance plans. Check with your health insurance company about coverage for the medication and about co-pay costs. Gilead, the maker of the medication Truvada that is prescribed for PrEP, has a co-pay assistance program.
If you need help paying for PrEP costs, “navigation” services can help you apply to programs that can help with co-payments, and help you understand your insurance coverage. Use the search filter labeled “Access assistance” to find PrEP navigation services.
If you do not have health insurance, you may be able to get PrEP at no or low cost. Gilead has a medication assistance program for PrEP. If you are eligible, the program provides free PrEP to people with limited income and no insurance to cover PrEP.
To search for PrEP providers that offer coverage to those without insurance, use the search filter “PrEP for uninsured”.
Where can I find resources about PrEP?
Click on the links below for more information about PrEP.