What is PrEP?
PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) is a daily medicine that HIV-negative people can take to reduce their risk of contracting HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
Using PrEP is as simple as taking one pill a day.
PrEP prevents HIV infection by making it difficult for the virus to establish itself inside of the body.
Video: What is PrEP?
Is PrEP Right for Me?
Do I want to reduce my risk of getting HIV?
Can I make a commitment to myself to take my medication and go in for appointments and related labwork?
What will I do to reduce my risk of other STIs?
Who Should Take It?
Federal guidelines suggest that a person consider PrEP if any of the following applies to them:
They are an HIV-negative person and in an on-going sexual relationship with an HIV-positive person
They are sexually active but aren’t in a mutually monogamous relationship with an HIV-negative person
They are a gay or bisexual man who has had anal sex without using a condom or been diagnosed with an STI (e.g. syphilis, gonorrhea, Chlamydia) in the past 6 months;
They are a man who has sex with both men and women; or
They are a heterosexual man or woman who does not regularly use condoms during sex with partners of unknown HIV status who are at substantial risk of HIV infection (e.g., people who inject drugs or women who have bisexual male partners).
If you are trying to decide if PrEP is right for you, remember that it is an on-going treatment that will require check-ups with a healthcare professional, and you have to take it daily to get the full benefit of it. If those things fit into your life, then you might want to get started by checking out our “HOW DO I GET PrEP?” page.
Not everyone can or should take PrEP, but one of the great things about it is that it can help reduce the number of new HIV cases in our community. That’s better for everyone!
What Should I Tell My Doctor?
Anyone thinking about PrEP should talk about these questions with their healthcare provider:
- Am I a good candidate for PrEP?
- What other options can I use to lower my risk of getting HIV infection?
- How effective would PrEP be at reducing my risk of HIV infection?
- Are there any side effects?
- Can you prescribe and manage PrEP for me here?
- Are there ways to help me to pay for PrEP if I need assistance?
- How often will I have to be tested for HIV and other STDs?
Additional questions for women:
- Can PrEP help me to get pregnant safely if my partner has HIV?
- Can I take PrEP if I am pregnant or breastfeeding?
If your doctor wants to learn more about PrEP, you can share the following resources:
- Phone: PrEPLine: 855-448-7737 (toll-free)- provides expert guidance to medical personnel about prescribing PrEP
- Preexposure Prophylaxis for the Prevention of HIV Infection - 2014: A PHS Clinical Practice Guideline
- Preexposure Prophylaxis for the Prevention of HIV Infection - 2014: Clinical Providers’ Supplement
- What Questions Should I Ask My Doctor?
Are There Side Effects?
In people taking PrEP to reduce the risk of getting HIV-1 infection, common side effects include: nausea, vomiting, headache, stomach-area (abdomen) pain, and decreased weight.
Be sure to tell your healthcare provider if you have or had any kidney, bone, or liver problems, including hepatitis virus infection.
How Much Does It Cost?
The cost will vary depending on your health insurance coverage (if any) and income level. If you can’t afford PrEP, there are some assistance programs available.
Does PrEP Work?
Studies show that taking PrEP consistently (daily) can reduce the risk of HIV by up to 92%.CDC List of PrEP Studies