PrEP, or pre-exposure prophylaxis, is highly effective medicine people at risk for HIV take to prevent getting HIV from sex or injection drug use. In fact, PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV from sex by about 99% when taken as prescribed. PrEP reaches maximum protection from HIV after sexual intercourse or injection drug use within 7 to 21 days of daily use.
You are a candidate for PrEP if you are HIV negative and are sexually active or have injected drugs in the last 6 months and:
- Your partner has HIV
- You haven’t practiced safe sex
- You have been diagnosed with an STI in the past 6 months
- You have an injection partner with HIV or you share drug equipment with others
Also, if you are a woman and have a partner with HIV and are considering getting pregnant, consult with your doctor right away about PrEP if you’re not already taking it. PrEP may help protect you and your baby from getting HIV while you try to get pregnant, during pregnancy, or while breastfeeding.
The most well-known branded drugs for PrEP are Descovy and Truvada. Once prescribed PrEP, you’ll need to see your healthcare provider every 3 months for repeat HIV tests, prescription refills, and follow-up. Please note – PrEP does not protect against sexually transmitted infections (i.e., Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, Syphilis etc.), therefore regular STI testing if also recommended.