PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis)

What is PrEP?

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PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) is a medicine that can prevent HIV infection. PrEP can be pills or shots. If taken as prescribed, it greatly reduces the chances of getting HIV from sex or injection drug use. PrEP gives you the power to protect your health and intimacy.

PrEP can help protect you if you don't have HIV, and any of the following apply to you.

You have had anal or vaginal sex in the past 6 months and you:

  • have a sexual partner with HIV (especially if your partner has an unknown or detectable viral load);
  • have not consistently used a condom; or
  • have been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease in the past 6 months.

You inject drugs and you:

  • have an injection partner with HIV; or
  • share needles, syringes, or other drug injection equipment (for example, cooker).

You have been prescribed PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) and you:

  • report continued risk behavior; or
  • have used multiple courses of PEP.

Can I take PrEP during pregnancy or while breastfeeding?

If you have a partner with HIV and are considering getting pregnant, talk to your health care provider about PrEP if you are not already taking it. PrEP may be an option to help protect you and your baby from getting HIV while you try to get pregnant, during pregnancy, or while breastfeeding.

Can adolescents take PrEP?

Yes. PrEP pills are approved for use by HIV-negative adolescents who weigh at least 77 pounds (35 kg) and at risk for getting HIV from sex or injection drug use. PrEP shots are approved for adolescents at risk for getting HIV from sex.

PrEP is safe but some people experience side effects like diarrhea, nausea, headache, fatigue, and stomach pain. These side effects usually go away over time.

Tell your health care provder about any side effects that are severe or do not go away.

PrEP is highly effective for preventing HIV.

  • PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV from sex by about 99% when taken as prescribed.
  • Although there is less information about how effective PrEP pills is among people who inject drugs, we do know that PrEP pills reduce the risk of getting HIV by at least 74% when taken as prescribed. Currently, PrEP shots are not recommended for people who inject drugs.
  • PrEP is less effective when not taken as prescribed.

Talk to your health care provider if you think PrEP may be right for you. PrEP can be prescribed only by a health care provider.

Before beginning PrEP, you must take an HIV test to make sure you don't have HIV.

  • While taking PrEP, you'll have to visit your health care provider routinely as recommended for
    • follow-up visits,
    • HIV tests, and
    • prescription refills or shots.
  • Ask your health care provider about mail-in HIV tests and telehealth services for follow-up visits.

Speak with your health care provider about PrEP or visit a local Planned Parenthood or Community Medical Centers.

Click the image below to find a PrEP provider near you.