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Read everything you need to know about PrEP for HIV.

There are many ways to prevent the spread of HIV, like getting tested to know your status or wearing condoms to protect yourself and your partner. However, there is one other way to armor up against the virus: PrEP.

What is PrEP and what are the benefits of it?

Short for pre-exposure prophylaxis, PrEP is made to reduce the chances of HIV infection for those who aren’t yet HIV positive. If you’re already living an HIV positive life, PrEP can’t stop HIV from spreading or help you manage your HIV – only prescribed HIV treatment can.

 PrEP is made for those who…

  • Engage in shared drug injection activities, where needles are used
  • Have unprotected sex with multiple partners
  • Maintain sexual relations with partner(s) with HIV
  • Have a history of having an STD in the past 6 months

For PrEP to work, it must be taken every day. When taken correctly, PrEP…

  • Reduces the risk of spreading HIV through sex by more than 90%, and 70% from injecting drugs
  • Lowers the risk of HIV transmission, if used along with condoms and dental dams
  • For anal sex, PrEP protects you from HIV after 7 days of daily use
  • For vaginal sex, PrEP protects you after 21 days of daily use

PrEP shouldn’t be used in place of condoms or dental dams during oral, anal or vaginal sex. While PrEP may reduce your risk of exposure to HIV, it can’t protect you from other STDs, like chlamydia or gonorrhea, among others.

Where can I get PrEP?

If you think PrEP may be right for you, talk to a healthcare provider about getting a prescription for it. PrEP isn’t available over the counter; it must be prescribed to you. Remember: PrEP is for those who are HIV-negative, so you may be asked by a healthcare provider to get tested for HIV first to make sure PrEP will work for you. 

PEP, which is like PrEP but functions as post exposure prophylaxis, is available in some emergency rooms for those who need urgent access to it. If you’ve had unprotected sex and think you’ve been exposed to HIV, this would be a situation where you need urgent access to PEP. If taken within 72 hours of exposure, PEP can stop HIV from spreading. 

Does PrEP cost anything? 

PrEP is more accessible than ever. Many health insurance plans cover the full cost of PrEP medication and there are also state PrEP assistance programs to help you get it. Additionally, Ready, Set, PrEP is a national program that makes PrEP medication available for free.

For more information on PrEP, visit TakeControlHIV.com.