What is Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP)?
- PrEP is a way for people who don’t have HIV to prevent HIV infection by taking a pill every day
- “PrEP” stands for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis. The word “prophylaxis” means “to prevent or control the spread of an infection or disease”
- Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (or PrEP) is when people at very high risk for HIV take HIV medicines daily to lower their chances of getting infected
- A combination of two HIV medicines (tenofovir and emtricitabine), sold under the name Truvada® (pronounced tru vá duh), is approved for daily use as PrEP to help prevent an HIV-negative person from getting HIV from a sexual or injection-drug-using partner who’s positive
- Studies have shown that PrEP is highly effective for preventing HIV if it is used as prescribed. PrEP is much less effective when it is not taken consistently
How does PrEP work?
- PrEP is a pill that contains medicines that are also used to treat HIV
- If you take PrEP and are exposed to HIV through sex or injection drug use, these medicines can work to keep the virus from taking hold in your body
- You must take PrEP every day, as prescribed, for it to reduce your risk of becoming infected with HIV
- PrEP, if taken as prescribed, can effectively prevent HIV. PrEP does not protect against other STDs
Is PrEP Right for Me?
- PrEP is for people who are HIV-negative, have a high risk of being exposed to HIV through sex or drug injection, and are ready to take a daily pill
- Studies have shown that PrEP works for sexually-active gay and bisexual men, heterosexual women and men, and injection drug users, and is also likely to benefit transgender women
- PrEP can help protect anyone whose partner has HIV. If you regularly worry about HIV, ask your doctor if PrEP may be right for you
Is PrEP Safe?
- Most adults can safely use PrEP, but a doctor will need to determine if there is any reason why you should not take it. PrEP is only for people who are HIV negative
- With any medication there may be minor side effects. Some people get an upset stomach when they first start taking PrEP
How Do I Get PrEP?
How Do I Find a Doctor?
- If you do not currently have a doctor, search our PrEP Directory
- Please note that medical provider inclusion in this directory is voluntary and does not serve as an endorsement or certification by the County of Los Angeles Department of Public Health.
I Have a Doctor, What do I Need to Know?
- If you are interested in speaking with a doctor to see if PrEP is right for you, try speaking with your primary care doctor first. Check out these tips on talking to your doctor
- If you wish to see a different doctor and are interested in seeking care at one of the clinics in the PrEP Directory, please call the provider listed for more information
What Else do I Need to Know?
- You’ll need to get an HIV test before starting PrEP
- People who use PrEP to stay HIV negative must be able to take the medication (one pill) every day
- While you are on PrEP, you will need to see a health care provider for regular check-ups (every 3 months) for repeat HIV and STD screenings, lab tests, and prescription refills
- Condoms provide additional protection against HIV and other STDs and unintended pregnancy. If you live in Los Angeles County and would like to have free condoms mailed to you, please visit our LA Condom website