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What is PrEP?
PrEP is a way to help prevent HIV infection by taking a pill every day. It helps protect you from getting HIV from an infected partner. When you use PrEP with condoms and other prevention methods, PrEP works even better and reduces risk for HIV to near zero. PrEP is not a cure for HIV and it doesn’t protect you from other STDs or unplanned pregnancy.
How does PrEP work?
The medication used for PrEP is called Truvada®. The drug keeps HIV from growing and taking hold in your body if you come in contact with the virus. You must take PrEP daily for it to be effective. It can reduce the risk of getting HIV through sex by more than 90% if you take it every day.
How do I know if PrEP is right for me?
PrEP is an option if you are at very high risk for HIV. PrEP may be right for you if:
- your partner is HIV-positive
- your partner is HIV-negative and either you or your partner has sex with someone whose HIV status is unknown
- you're a gay or bisexual man who has had anal sex without a condom or been told you have an STD in the past 6 months
- you have injected drugs in the past 6 months and have shared needles or been in drug treatment for IV drug use in the past 6 months.
If you think you may be at high risk for HIV, talk with your health care provider about whether PrEP is right for you. They can tell you more about how it works and what you can expect while taking it.
Does PrEP have side effects?
PrEP can cause side effects in some people, like nausea, vomiting or headaches. The majority of people will not experience these side effects and if they do, side effects will resolve within 3-4 weeks. Though it is proven safe, some PrEP users will experience a change in kidney function and loss in bone density. Kidney function and bone density will return to baseline levels after they stop taking PrEP. If you take PrEP, your health care provider will do regular tests to monitor for any adverse side effects.
If I take PrEP, can I stop using condoms?
You should continue using condoms while you take PrEP. Condoms help prevent HIV and other STDs, as well as reduce your risk for an unplanned pregnancy. PrEP is up to 90% effective and using condoms along with PrEP can help you reduce your risk even more. PrEP does not protect against any other STDs. Use condoms consistently with every act and continue to get tested regularly.
How much does PrEP cost?
Most insurance programs, including Medi-Cal, cover the cost of PrEP. If you don’t have insurance, Planned Parenthood can direct you to a medication assistance program that can provide PrEP for free or low cost.
How can I start PrEP?
PrEP is available through a prescription at your local Planned Parenthood Los Angeles health center. You can make an appointment or walk-in to talk to a health care provider to find out if PrEP is right for you.
If you and your health care provider decide that PrEP is a good option for you, you will need to take a HIV test before you start PrEP, along with other health exams for STDs, Hepatitis B and kidney function. When you first start taking PrEP, it can take 1-3 weeks to be effective. Remember, PrEP does not work well if you skip doses, so be sure to take it every day.
While you’re taking PrEP, you’ll need to visit your health care provider for regular follow-ups and testing. Your health care provider will review the timeline with you.
- PrEP is a daily pill that can help keep you from contracting HIV.
- PrEP is safe and highly effective.
- Talk to your health care provider to find out if PrEP is right for you.