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Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV Prevention

October 22, 2018
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What is PrEP?

PrEP stands for pre-exposure prophylaxis. Prophylaxis means to prevent an infection or disease. The goal of PrEP is to prevent HIV infection. This is done by taking a pill daily that contains two medications to prevent HIV infection if you are exposed to the virus.

Should I take PrEP?

PrEP is not for everyone. It is prescribed for patients that have a very high risk of HIV exposure, this could be from not using a condom when they have sex with a person who has HIV infection or by sharing needles with a person who has HIV. You should consider PrEP if you sometimes have sex without using a condom, especially if you have a sex partner who has HIV infection. You should consider PrEP if you don’t know whether your partner has HIV infection, but you know your partner is at risk (your partner injects drugs or is having sex with other people in addition to you).

How well does PrEP work?

PrEP has been tested in several large studies of both men and women. If taken as prescribed, PrEP can decrease HIV acquisition by more than 90%.

If I take PrEP can I stop using condoms when I have sex?

No, you should not stop using condoms when you are taking PrEP. If PrEP is taken daily, it offers excellent protection against HIV infection, but not 100%. Condoms offer another degree of protection and can help protect you from other sexually transmitted infections. You will get the most protection from HIV and other sexually transmitted infections if you consistently take PrEP and consistently use condoms during sex.

How can I start PrEP?

If you think you may be at high risk for HIV, talk to a provider at the Student Health Center about PrEP. If you and your provider agree that PrEP might reduce your risk of getting HIV infection, you will need a general health exam, blood tests for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, and blood tests to see if your kidneys and liver are functioning well. If these tests show that PrEP medicines are likely to be safe for you to take and you may benefit from PrEP, providers at the Student Health Center can discuss PrEP, answer your questions and provide a prescription for PrEP.

Taking PrEP requires regular follow up medical care, and blood tests. PrEP must be taken every day as prescribed. Tell your provider if you have any side effects from the medication, have trouble remembering to take your medicine regularly, or if you want to stop PrEP.

Need more information or want to schedule an appointment? Call the Student Health Center at 209-228-2273