What is PrEP and how will protect me from HIV?

PrEP stands for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis. Prophylaxis comes from a Greek word meaning “to guard against” and describes a form of protection from infection or disease. For example, some people might take aspirin as a prophylactic to prevent heart disease.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, PrEP can reduce the risk of getting HIV from sex by more than 90%. Using condoms provides added safety. It is important to note that PrEP does not protect you from other sexually transmitted infections.
No, currently there is no vaccination to protect yourself from HIV. PrEP is a pill that, if taken daily, can prevent HIV from attaching to cells so the virus doesn’t replicate. Eventually, the virus dies and the body does not become infected with HIV.

How Does PrEP Work?

If taken daily, PrEP can reduce the risk of getting HIV from sex by more than 90%. The pill works by preventing HIV from attaching to the cells it typically attacks. When the virus can’t attach to the cell, it cannot replicate itself and will eventually die.


What About Condoms?

When taken every day, PrEP is safe and highly effective in preventing HIV infection. PrEP is even more effective if it is combined with other ways to prevent new HIV infections like condom use, drug abuse treatment, and treatment for people living with HIV to reduce the chance of passing the virus to others.

Who is at Risk of HIV?

Each individual has their own risk factors but, historically, there have been certain groups affected more drastically by HIV/AIDS. These groups include:

  • Men who have sex with men
  • Transgender people
  • Intravenous drug users
  • Young People (13 – 24 year olds)
  • Sex workers
  • Women

This list is not exhaustive. For more information about HIV prevalence by population, please go to AIDS.gov

Who is PrEP for?

PrEP can be a good protective barrier against HIV by anyone who is sexually active and can take a pill every day. It might also be a good option for those that are intravenous drug users.

Certain behaviors put you at risk for HIV including condom-less sex and intravenous drug use.



Is PrEP Different from PEP?


PEP must be prescribed within 72 hours of possible exposure.

What is PEP?

PEP stands for Post-Exposure Prophylaxis and is a protocol to be used after possible exposure to HIV. PEP must be prescribed within 72 hours of possible exposure and the medications are taken for 28 days.

How can I access PEP?

PEP is available by prescription only and must be accessed within the 72 hours following possible exposure to HIV. The prescription can be obtained from a physician, an emergency room, an urgent care clinic, or an HIV clinic. Because this is time-sensitive, it is best to call ahead of time to make sure you can be seen.

Is PEP safe?

According to the CDC, PEP might cause some side effects but is considered safe. Any side effects that do occur are treatable.

How Do I Pay for PEP?
  • Coverage of costs for PEP vary according to cause of possible exposure. Medical professionals are often covered by workplace insurance. In the case of sexual assault, costs may be covered by the Office for Victims of Crime, funded by the US Department of Justice. For other exposures, the health provider may be of assistance in identifying payment sources when insurance will not cover the costs of prescribing PEP. For other ways to pay for PEP, please click on the button below.
  • Payment coverage for PEP varies according to the method of possible HIV exposure. Medical professionals are often covered by workplace insurance. If the possible exposure was from sexual assault, costs may be covered by the Office for Victims of Crime, funded by the US Department of Justice.
  • For other exposures, a health provider may help identify payment assistance when insurance does not cover PEP.

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