PrEP, or pre-exposure prophylaxis, is a new prevention tool for HIV negative individuals that involves taking a once daily anti-HIV medication that can reduce your chance of getting HIV by up to 99 percent. PrEP is currently made by the pharmaceutical company Gilead and sold under the brand name Truvada.
PrEP may be right for you if you are HIV negative and at increased risk of contracting HIV. Risk factors include:
- You are sexually active and identify as gay or bisexual, or are a man who has sex with other men
- You have an HIV positive partner
- You have anal sex without using condoms
- You have multiple sexual or drug using partners whose HIV status is unknown
- You recently had a sexually transmitted disease
- You inject drugs and/or share needles with others
- You recently attended a drug treatment program
- You exchange sex for drugs, money, housing or other needs
Studies have shown PrEP is highly effective at preventing HIV if it is used as prescribed. PrEP also involves regular checkups and testing for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections with your health care provider.
How does PrEP work?
PrEP is an FDA approved antiretroviral that works to prevent HIV from establishing an infection inside the body. Truvada for PrEP is not a cure for HIV nor is it a vaccine.
How effective is PrEP?
Daily use of PrEP is up to 99 percent effective at reducing your risk of getting HIV from sexual contact, and more than 70 percent effective for people who inject drugs. If a daily dose is missed, the level of protection may decrease. PrEP can also help reduce the anxiety, fear and stress that can be associated with HIV.
Can PrEP protect me from other sexually transmitted infections?
While up to 99 percent effective against HIV, PrEP does not protect against other sexually transmitted infections or pregnancy. Combining PrEP with condoms and other prevention methods will decrease your chances of getting HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.
Is PrEP safe?
PrEP is safe and highly effective. While PrEP can cause some initial side effects that include nausea, stomach pain or weight loss, they generally subside over a short time. No significant, long-term health effects have been seen in HIV-negative people who have taken PrEP for up to 5 years.