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PrEP: Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis


Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis

What is PrEP?

PrEP is a prescription medication that, when taken daily, is proven to be 90% effective at protecting a person from HIV transmission.

This medication is recommended for people who are currently HIV-negative, but at are risk of transmission. This would be a person who is sexually active (especially with multiple partners) or works in an environment where they could come into contact with bodily fluids (such as a healthcare provider).

PrEP does not cure HIV. However, it does prevent HIV from infecting the body by blocking the virus from infiltrating the enzymes of the body’s cells.

Who does PrEP work for?

PrEP has been shown to reduce the risk of HIV infection through sexual intercourse (for gay and bisexual men, transgender women, and heterosexual men and women) and drug injection.

How well does PrEP work?

PrEP provides a significant reduction in HIV risk for HIV-negative individuals who take the pill every day as directed. If a daily dose is missed, the level of HIV protection may decrease. It only works if you take it. People who use PrEP correctly and consistently have higher levels of protection against HIV. It does not protect against other sexually transmitted infections (STI) or pregnancy and should still be used in conjunction with condoms. It is not a cure for HIV.

Is PrEP right for me?

PrEP may benefit you if you test negative for HIV and

  • you have had anal or vaginal sex in the past 6 months, and you:
  • have a sexual partner with HIV (especially if the partner has an unknown or detectable viral load),
  • have not consistently used a condom, or
  • have been diagnosed with an STD in the past 6 months.


  • you inject drugs and
  • have an injection partner with HIV, or
  • share needles, syringes, or other injection equipment.


  • you’ve been prescribed PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) and you
    • report continued risk behavior or
    • have used multiple courses of PEP

If you are a woman and have a partner with HIV and are considering getting pregnant, talk to your doctor about PrEP. 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.

Is PrEP Safe?

PrEP is safe. No significant health effects have been seen in people who are HIV-negative and have taken PrEP for up to 5 years.

Some people taking PrEP may have side effects, like nausea, diarrhea, headache, fatigue, and stomach pain. These side effects are usually not serious and go away over time. If you are taking PrEP, tell your health care provider if you have any side effect that bothers you or that does not go away.

And be aware: PrEP protects you against HIV but not against other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or other types of infections. Combining PrEP with condoms will reduce your risk of getting other STIs.

How do you get PrEP?

If you think PrEP may be right for you, visit your doctor or health care provider. PrEP is only available by prescription. Any health care provider licensed to write prescriptions can prescribe PrEP; specialization in infectious diseases or HIV medicine is not required.

For more information about PrEP and to connect to a PrEP Navigator, visit