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The What and Why of PrEP:
Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) is a daily pill that can help you stay HIV-negative. The medicines in PrEP can protect you before you might be exposed to HIV.
- PrEP is for HIV-negative people who are at risk of being exposed to HIV through sex or injecting drugs and who are ready to take a daily pill.
- Talk to Your Doctor. Your doctor or nurse can help you decide if PrEP is right for you. These clinics can help you get PrEP.
- Take PrEP Every Day. Do not skip a dose.
- Keep using protection. Even if you take PrEP daily, condoms give you additional protection against HIV, other sexually transmitted infections, and unintended pregnancy.
- Know the common side effects. PrEP can have mild side effects, like stomach pain, weight loss and headaches, especially at the beginning of treatment. PrEP may not be right for everyone. Talk to your doctor.
- Find Out about Paying for PrEP. Many insurance plans including Medicaid cover PrEP. Assistance may be available if you are uninsured.
- PrEP is not an emergency medication. If you think you were recently exposed to HIV, you may need emergency treatment, see about PEP.
The use of Truvada as PrEP provides a 96% to 99% reduced risk of infection from HIV in HIV-negative people taking PrEP every day as directed.
Do I still need condoms with PrEP?
PrEP is very effective, but it does not provide 100% protection against HIV. Other safe sex practices, like using condoms and barriers, provide additional protection against HIV, even while taking PrEP. Safe sex barriers, like condoms, also prevent unintended pregnancy and protect against other sexually transmitted diseases and infections.
How does PrEP prevent HIV?
PrEP contains the same medicines that people with HIV use to stay healthy. If you are exposed to HIV, these medicines can stop the virus from multiplying and spreading throughout your body. PrEP only works if you have enough medicine in your body, so you need to take PrEP every day.
Why should I take PrEP?
PrEP is for people who are HIV-negative, have a high risk of being exposed to HIV through sex or drug injection, and are ready to take a daily pill. Studies have shown that PrEP works for sexually-active cis-gender gay and bisexual men, cis-heterosexual women and men, and injection drug users, and is also likely to benefit transgender people, including transgender women. PrEP can help protect partners of people living with HIV.
How do I take PrEP?
PrEP is prescribed by a doctor or nurse. You should take PrEP exactly as prescribed. With PrEP, you take a pill once a day, even on the days you don’t have sex or inject drugs.
The only medication currently approved for PrEP is Truvada®, a combination pill that contains two different medicines: emtricitabine (Emtriva®) and tenofovir (Viread®). Talk to your regular doctor or nurse or visit one of the many clinics with experience providing PrEP all over New York City. See our map here.
Can I take PrEP if I have HIV already?
PrEP is for HIV prevention, if you have already tested positive for HIV then speak with your doctor about potential treatments.
Before you start PrEP, you take an HIV test to make sure that you do not have HIV. You also have a check-up to make sure your kidneys and liver are healthy. While you are on PrEP, your doctor or nurse will test you regularly for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. They will also ask you about your HIV risk and whether you are taking PrEP every day.
PrEP can help you stay HIV-negative when your risk of HIV exposure is high. You may decide to stop taking this medication if your risk changes. But do not stop taking PrEP without first talking to your doctor. Also, tell your doctor if you are thinking about becoming pregnant or if you become pregnant while on PrEP.
What are the side effects of PrEP?
PrEP is safe. The pill used for PrEP, Truvada®, has been used to treat people with HIV since 2004. PrEP can cause mild side effects, including upset stomach, headaches and weight loss, especially at the beginning of treatment. Rare side effects include kidney or bone problems. Your doctor or nurse can help if side effects are bothering you.
Does PrEP work well?
In different studies, people taking PrEP were 44% to 75% less likely to get HIV than comparison groups, and people who took PrEP consistently were up to 92% less likely to get HIV. PrEP is not 100% effective. You can still get HIV, especially if you do not have not enough medicine in your body.