What is Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP)?
“PrEP” stands for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis. PrEP is a way for people who don’t have HIV but who are at very high risk of getting it to prevent HIV infection by taking a pill every day. The pill contains two medicines that are also used to treat HIV. If you take PrEP and are exposed to HIV through sex or injection drug use, these medicines can work to keep the virus from taking hold in your body.
PrEP is a powerful HIV prevention tool and can be combined with condoms and other prevention methods to provide even greater protection than when used alone. People who use PrEP must commit to taking the drug every day and seeing their health care provider for follow-up every three (3) months.
Can Anyone use PrEP?
PrEP is not for everyone. Federal guidelines recommend that PrEP be considered for people who are HIV-negative and at very high risk for HIV infection. This includes anyone who is in an ongoing relationship with an HIV-positive partner. It also includes anyone who:
- Is not in a mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who recently tested HIV-negative and is a gay or bisexual man who has had anal sex without a condom or been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection within the past six (6) months.
- Men who has sex with both men and women
- Heterosexual man or woman who does not regularly use condoms during sex with partners of unknown HIV status who are at substantial risk of HIV infection (e.g. people who inject drugs or women who have bisexual male partners).
- PrEP is recommended for people who have injected drugs in the past six (6) months and have shared needles or works or been in drug treatment in the past six (6) months.
Can Anyone use PrEP? (cont’d)
PrEP is only for people who are at substantial ongoing risk of HIV infection. For people who need to prevent HIV after a sing high-risk encounter of potential HIV exposure—such as sex without a condom, needle-sharing injection drug use, or sexual assault—there is another option called post-exposure prophylaxis, or PEP. PEP must begin within 72 hours of exposure.
Please note that taking PrEP will not prevent you from getting syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, or other sexually transmitted diseases. Similarly, for those taking PrEP because of injection drug use, PrEP will not protect you from getting Hepatitis C, skin, or heart infections.
See your primary care health professionals for all questions on PrEP to ensure that PrEP is the right fit for your sexual health.
Someone Cares Inc. primary care professionals will answer all your questions on PrEP and if it’s the right fit for your sexual health, will link you with the agency’s in-house PrEP Coordinator to enroll you in the PrEP program.