What is PrEP?
Pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP is a pill (brand name Descovy or Truvada) that can be taken once a day to greatly reduce your chances of getting HIV if exposed to the virus. If taken as directed, PrEP can reduce your risk of getting HIV through sexual contact by more than 90%.
Who should consider PrEP?
- Anyone who is in an ongoing relationship with an HIV-positive partner or someone who has partners of unknown HIV status. PrEP is also recommended for HIV negative persons whose partner is HIV positive and want to conceive.
- Anyone who does not regularly use condoms during sex with partners of unknown HIV status who are at substantial risk of HIV infection.
- Anyone who has recently tested positive for a bacterial sexually transmitted infection (STI).
- Anyone who injects drugs and shares needles with people of unknown HIV status. Daily PrEP (Truvada) use can also reduce HIV among individuals who inject drugs by more than 70%.
PrEP WILL NOT protect you from STIs, like syphilis, gonorrhea, or chlamydia, so using a condom while on PrEP is advised.
If prescribed PrEP, individuals must follow up with a provider every 3 months to undergo screenings to ensure a negative result and assess any other issues related to medication side effects. Although side effects are minimum, the provider should monitor the patient throughout the time the patient is taking PrEP.
- In clinical trials, some individuals experienced early side effects like an upset stomach or loss of appetite. These side effects were mild and went away within the first month. During the study, no serious side effect was observed.
- Truvada is approved for PrEP for everyone at risk for HIV through sexual contact and injection drug use. Descovy is approved for people at risk through sex, excluding people at risk through receptive vaginal sex.
- You should not stop using condoms because you are taking PrEP. If PrEP is taken daily, it offers a lot of protection against HIV infection, but not 100%. Condoms also offer a lot of protection against HIV infection if they are used correctly every time you have sex, but not 100%. PrEP medications don’t give you any protection from other infections you can get during sex, but condoms do.
- You will get the most protection from HIV and other sexual infections if you consistently take PrEP medication and consistently use condoms during sex.
PrEP is covered by most insurance providers. If you do not have insurance or are unable to afford the co-pay there are patient assistance programs available.
- Gilead Advancing Access
- Patient Advocate Foundation Co-pay Relief
- Ready, Set, PrEP (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)
For more information on PrEP or for all other inquiries, email us at PrEPMeSC@dhec.sc.gov