What is PrEP?
PrEP (full name pre-exposure prophylaxis) is a daily medication that helps prevent the transmission of HIV in people who have not yet been exposed. There are two types - Truvada, which protects all people at risk through sex or drug injection, and Descovy, which protects people assigned male at birth from getting HIV from sexual contact. PrEP is a revolutionary medication that has drastically changed the outcomes for people at risk for HIV since it was introduced in 2012.
Who Should Start PrEP?
PrEP (specifically Truvada) is highly effective (more than 90%) in preventing HIV transmission from sex for people of all genders and sexualities. People who might take PrEP include folks with a sexual partner who is HIV positive, folks with a partner whose HIV status is unknown, people who have tested positive for an STI in the past 6 months (which puts them at higher risk for contracting HIV), and people who inject non-prescription drugs. Chat with your doctor if you think PrEP might be right for you.
Where To Get It?
PrEP is covered under most private and public health insurance. Check out this directory for PrEP providers near you. It is also available through telehealth companies like Folx
Other Things To Know
- It’s important that you take your PrEP pills every day. If you skip pills, there may not be enough of the medication in your system to block transmission of HIV.
- Since PrEP is just for HIV prevention, you still need to take precautions like barrier methods and regular testing to prevent other STIs/STDs.
- Side effects like nausea, loss of appetite, and headaches may occur, but usually go away over time
- Once you’re on PrEP, you’ll need to visit your doctor once every three months for follow-ups on how the medication is working and an HIV test. This may take the form of an in-person visit or a home test and telemedicine visit.
- If you’ve been exposed to HIV and aren’t on PrEP, you can take PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) within 72 hours of exposure. The sooner you can get PEP, the more effective it is, and it must be taken daily for 28 days.
- CDC. (2020, November 3). About Prep. HIV Basics. https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/basics/prep/about-prep.html
- Planned Parenthood. (n.d.). What Is PrEP. Planned Parenthood. https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/stds-hiv-safer-sex/hiv-aids/prep
- Please Prep Me. (2021, January 15). Please Prep Me. Please Prep Me. https://pleaseprepme.org/