‘PrEP’ stands for preexposure prophylaxis. The goal of PrEP is to prevent HIV infection from taking hold if you are exposed to the virus. This is done by taking a pill that contains 2 HIV medications every day.
PrEP is described for patients who have a very high risk of coming in contact with HIV. You should consider PrEP is you are a man or woman who sometimes has sex without a condom, especially if you have a sex partner who you know has HIV infection. You should also consider PrEP if you don’t know whether your partner has HIV infection but you know that your partner is at risk (for example, your partner injects drugs or is having sex with people in addition to you) or if you have recently been told by a health care provider that you have a sexually-transmitted infection. If your partner has HIV infection, PrEP may be an option to help protect you from getting HIV infection while you try to get pregnant, during pregnancy, or while breastfeeding.
If you think you may be at high risk for HIV, you will need to come in for a general health physical, blood tests for HIV, and tests for other infections that you can get from sex partners. Your blood will also be tested to see if your kidneys and liver are functioning well. If these tests show that PrEP medicines are likely to be safe for you to take and that you might benefit from PrEP, your doctor may give you a prescription.
Taking PrEP medicines will require you to follow-up regularly with your doctor. You will receive counseling on sexual behaviors and blood tests for HIV infection and to see if your body is responding well to the medications. You should take the medication every day as prescribed.
You should not stop using condoms because you are taking PrEP. PrEP medications do not provide any protection from other infections you can get during sex, but condoms do. So, you will get the most protection from HIV and other sexual infections if you consistently take PrEP medications and use condoms.
Paying for PrEP
Most insurance providers cover PrEP prescriptions. Patients who require medical assistance can visit the Gilead Advancing Access® program website to learn about assistance options.