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If you think you were exposed to HIV, go immediately to a clinic or emergency room and ask for PEP. Visit our PEP page for more information on PEP.
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.
- Take PrEP Every Day. Do not skip doses.
- 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 our PEP page.
How effective is PrEP?
According to the CDC, studies have shown that PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV from sex by about 99% when taken daily. Among people who inject drugs, PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV by at least 74% when taken as prescribed.
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 one pill once a day, even on the days you don’t have sex or inject drugs.
Two medications, sold under the brand names Truvada® and Descovy® are approved for daily use as PrEP to help prevent a person without HIV from getting the virus from sex or injection drug use. Studies have shown that PrEP is highly effective for preventing HIV if it is used as prescribed. PrEP is much less effective when it is not taken consistently.
HIV PrEP and COVID-19: As New Yorkers are required to stay home, fewer will need to initiate pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to prevent HIV. Consider home self-testing for people who need to start PrEP.
- Use telephone or video conference to discuss pausing PrEP or switching to PrEP on demandPrEP on demand.
- Delay switching PrEP regimens or scheduled in-person monitoring, with possible exceptions for patients with impaired renal function.
- In place of scheduled testing, ask patients about symptoms of incident HIV and STIs.
In the US it is anticipated that Gilead, the pharmaceutical company that produces Truvada® and Descovy®, will release the patent for Truvada® in September of 2020, allowing for consumer access to generic options for PrEP.
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 generally regarded as safe to use and side effects are typically mild. 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.