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PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis)

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What Is PrEP?

PrEP stands for pre-exposure prophylaxis. It is when someone takes medicines every day to lower his or her chances of getting HIV.

Who Should Take PrEP?

Only people at very high risk for getting HIV should take PrEP, such as:

  • those who are in a sexual relationship with someone who is HIV-positive
  • men who have sex with other men and have had anal sex without a condom
  • men who have sex with other men and have been diagnosed with an STD (sexually transmitted disease) in the past 6 months
  • those who have sex without a condom with people who are at high risk for HIV (for example, IV drug users or men who have sex with other men)
  • those who share needles with others

Does PrEP Always Prevent Someone From Getting HIV?

PrEP prevents HIV transmission most — but not all — of the time. Besides taking the PrEP medicine every day, using a condom every time and for every form of sex (vaginal, oral, anal) can give even more protection from getting HIV.

Does PrEP Protect People From Other STDs?

No, PrEP does not protect people from getting other STDs. So, someone taking PrEP needs to use a condom every time and for every form of sex (vaginal, oral, anal) to lower the risk of getting other STDs.

How Does Someone Get PrEP?

A health care provider prescribes PrEP. The medicines must be taken every day to work. An HIV test is done when someone starts PrEP and every 3 months after that.

Reviewed by: Robyn R. Miller, MD

Date reviewed: 01/01/2019

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Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.