PrEP stands for pre-exposure prophylaxis. It’s a daily pill that can help prevent HIV. If you don’t have HIV, taking PrEP every day can lower your chances of getting HIV from sex by more than 90%. PrEP is also known by the brand name Truvada.
Who can use PrEP?
PrEP isn’t right for everybody. PrEP is for people who don’t have HIV, and are at higher risk for getting HIV. You may want to talk with a doctor or nurse about PrEP if you:
Don’t regularly use condoms
Have a sexual partner who has HIV
Have a sexual partner who is at high risk for getting HIV (like if they have anal or vaginal sex with other people without condoms, or they’re an injection drug user)
Have anal or vaginal sex with many partners, especially if you don’t use condoms regularly
Do sex work that includes vaginal or anal sex
Have injected drugs, shared needles, or been in treatment for drug use in the past 6 months
How effective is PrEP?
If you use it correctly, PrEP can lower your chances of getting HIV from sex by more than 90%. And using condoms and PrEP together helps you stay even safer. PrEP can also lowers your chances of getting HIV from sharing needles by more than 70%.
What are the side effects?
PrEP is very safe. No serious problems have been reported in people who are taking PrEP, but it may cause side effects like nausea, loss of appetite, and headaches. These side effects aren’t dangerous and they usually get better with time. Most people on PrEP have no side effects at all.
How do I get PrEP?
Planned Parenthood Keystone now offers PrEP.
Your nurse or doctor will talk with you about the sex you have, the protection you use, and your medical history. They’ll also give you tests for HIV, and other STIs, and they'll test your kidneys to make sure they’re working well.
How much does PrEP cost?
Most health insurance plans, including Medicaid, cover PrEP. Check with your insurance company to see if PrEP is covered on your plan. You might also be able to get help with other expenses, like copays, coinsurance, and deductibles, though Gilead (the company that makes PrEP) or patient advocacy groups like the Patient Advocate Foundation.
If you don’t have health insurance, you can still get help paying for PrEP. Gilead has a medication assistance program that could make PrEP free for you, depending on your income. Your doctor or nurse will need to submit an application for you to find out if you qualify.
The staff at your local Planned Parenthood health center can also help you apply for health insurance or assistance programs that can make PrEP affordable for you.