What is PrEP?
PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis ) is a way to prevent HIV infection by taking one pill once a day. Research has shown that PrEP can be up to 99% effective at preventing HIV infection when taken every day.
PrEP can be used by heterosexual, bisexual, gay and transgender individuals, and also by persons who inject drugs and pregnant women. PrEP is not a cure for HIV and it cannot protect you from pregnancy or other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), like gonorrhea or chlamydia.
How Does It Work?
The pill in the PrEP regimen, Truvada, contains two antiretroviral medicines that interfere with HIV’s ability to grow and take hold in your body if you are exposed to the virus. When taken every day, PrEP can provide a high level of protection against HIV, and PrEP should always be combined with condoms and other prevention strategies. In several studies of PrEP usage, the risk of getting HIV was reduced by up to 92% for those who took the medicines consistently than for those who didn’t take them at all. People who use the PrEP regimen must take the pill every day and return to their healthcare provider every 3 months for lab monitoring, risk review, and prescription refills.
Why Should I Consider PrEP?
You should consider PrEP if:
- You don't always use condoms when you have anal or vaginal sex
- You don't always ask your partner to wear a condom
- You've been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection in the last 6 months
- You're unsure of the HIV status of your sexual partner(s)
- You're in a relationship with a partner who has HIV (who may or may not be on HIV treatment)
- You are a person who injects drugs, or you're in a sexual relationship with a person who injects drugs
- You don't have HIV and are interested in PrEP
How can I start PrEP?
Make an appointment at Planned Parenthood to talk to a healthcare provider and determine if PrEP is right for you. You can make a general appointment online or by calling 410-576-1414. If you and your healthcare provider decide that PrEP is a good option for you, you can get a prescription through Planned Parenthood.
Patients with some chronic medical conditions will be referred to providers outside Planned Parenthood of Maryland for PrEP services.
How Do I Pay for PrEP?
PrEP is covered by most insurance programs, but if you do not have insurance, Planned Parenthood can direct you to medication assistance programs that may help pay for PrEP.
What Should I Do Before My Appointment?
Do your research. Seek out information that will help you make a decision and have an informative conversation with your healthcare provider. Some people also find it helpful to make a list of questions for your healthcare provider, as well as the reasons why you think PrEP would be right for you. Some questions you might ask yourself and/or provider are:
- Would PrEP be a good option for me?
- How much would PrEP lower my risk of HIV infection?
- What else can I do to lower my risk of HIV infection?
- Will the daily pill work for my routine?
- Can I get help paying for PrEP?
- How often will I be tested for HIV and other STDs?
- Will you prescribe and manage PrEP for me?