PrEP (Pre-exposure Prophylaxis)

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What is it?

  1. PrEP is a bio-medical prevention option for individuals who are at a higher risk of contracting HIV.
  2. PrEP should be used along with condom use to prevent being infected with HIV.
  3. The goal of PrEP is to prevent the viral infection from taking if a person is exposed to the virus.
  4. PrEP is meant to be taken daily in pill form.
  5. The medications for PrEP are some of the same as those used to help keep the virus under control in people that are living with HIV infection.
  6. PrEP is not a vaccine. It is neither injected into the body nor does it work the same way as a vaccine does.  However, taken regularly, it can be extremely effective at preventing HIV infection.
  7. PrEP is a pill called “Truvada (tru va’ duh) and is a combination of two drugs by the names of Tenofovir and Emtricitabine.  Truvada has been shown to be safe and effective for both the treatment and the prevention of HIV.  Taking PrEP daily can help block the infection from “taking hold” in your body and spreading throughout your body.  Failing to take PrEP daily may result in the virus taking hold because there is not enough medication in the bloodstream to block it.  For the purpose of PrEP, Truvada can be stopped at any time with out consequences.


The Gist:

  1. Taking PrEP daily and coupling it with the use of condoms is greatly effective as a preventative measure against contracting HIV.
  2. Medication should be taken daily to be most effective.  The medication is safe, but labs will be required a few times a year.
  3. Since there is no cure or vaccination currently available for HIV/AIDS, the key is prevention.


Who should take PrEP?

People who are HIV negative, and:

  1. Anyone who is in an ongoing relationship with an HIV positive partner
  2. Anyone who is not in a mutually monogamous (meaning that you and your partner ONLY have sex with each other and do not have sex outside of the relationship) relationship with a partner who recently tested HIV negative
  3. Gay or bisexual men who have had anal sex without a condom or have been diagnosed with an STD in the last 6 months
  4. Heterosexual male or female who does not regularly use condoms for sex with partners of unknown HIV status.
  5. Those who have injected illicit drugs in the last 6 months and have shared injection equipment or have been in drug treatment for injection drug use in the last 6 months

NOTE: People taking PrEP should be able to do so every single day and should return to their PCP for repeat HIV testing, follow-up care including STI testing, and prescription refills.


More About PrEP

Studies have shown that taking PrEP is associated with a 92% decrease in the risk of infection. PrEP is a safe drug that only exhibits mild side effects.  Some participants in studies have shown to have an upset stomach and a loss of appetite, or mild headache, but these symptoms went away within the first month of taking the medication.  There were no serious side effects reported.  If you are taking PrEP and experience these symptoms, you should speak with your health provider if they become severe or do not go away.

Starting PrEP:The CDC has provided pamphlets in both English and Spanish that may help you ask your provider the appropriate questions concerning the drug.

Medication Patient Assistance is available for insured patients as well as those without insurance. To find out if you are eligible for this medication assistance program, call 1-855-330-5479, Monday through Friday between 9:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. (Eastern).

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