Learn About PrEP & Prevention Medicines

Prevention medicines help prevent STIs, including HIV, and can be used in addition to condoms and lube. If you're interested in using prevention medicines, you'll need to talk to a healthcare provider. They'll be able to help you take the next step.

Keep reading to learn more about:

PrEP

PrEP stands for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis.

Pre = Before

Exposure = Contact

Prophylaxis = Prevent

PrEP means taking prescription medicine every day before you're exposed to HIV to help reduce the risk of getting HIV. It doesn't protect against other STIs though, so it's important to also use condoms and healthier sex practices.

PrEP is part of a prevention package.

Regular HIV and STI testing, using condoms and lube, communicating honestly with partner(s)—these are all things that, when used together with PrEP, help better protect you.

If you're HIV-negative, PrEP could be right for your situation. Talk to a healthcare provider. You two can talk about what's best for you.

Not sure how to start the conversation? Use our Doctor Discussion Guide to get some ideas.

Consider talking to a healthcare provider about PrEP if you:

  • Have anal or vaginal sex without a condom
  • Have had an STI recently
  • Have sex with someone who's living with HIV
  • Have sexual partner(s) in an area of the country or community where HIV is more common

Looking for a healthcare provider you can be comfortable discussing PrEP with? Find one here.

We've discussed the basics here, but if you want even more PrEP info,
the CDC can help.

If you are HIV-negative, talk to a healthcare provider about if PrEP may be right for you.



By the way, if you have a partner who's living with HIV, there are things they can do to help protect their health and help protect you from getting HIV.

That's right. It's called...

TasP

TasP stands for "treatment as prevention." While there is no cure for HIV, people living with HIV can use TasP to help protect their health and help protect their sexual partners from getting HIV.

It's like this: Taking HIV treatment every day can lower the amount of virus in the blood to the point where a test can't even pick it up. That's called undetectable. And current research shows that people living with HIV who get to and stay undetectable have basically no risk of passing HIV to their partners through sex. To stay undetectable, people must keep taking their HIV treatment every day.

For more information about treatment as prevention, visit helpstopthevirus.com

PEP

PEP, or Post-Exposure Prophylaxis, means taking prescription medicines daily after you think you've been exposed to HIV.

4 Things You Should Know About PEP:

  • You need to start taking PEP medicines within 72 hours after exposure (but the sooner, the better)
  • PEP requires taking prescription medicines every day for 28 days
  • Talk to a healthcare provider right away if you think you've been exposed
  • You can get prescriptions for PEP from an emergency room, a 24-hour clinic, or a healthcare provider

PEP isn't one specific medicine—it's made up of a combination of antiretroviral medicines that can fight off HIV.

Warning

PEP is usually used in emergency situations—like if the condom breaks and you aren't sure of your partner's status, you have condomless sex with someone who is living with HIV, or if you've gotten stuck with a needle. If you're looking for a more proactive prevention method, consider talking to a healthcare provider about PrEP, using condoms, and other healthier sex practices.

Vaccinations

Hepatitis A and B vaccines are now recommended for everyone as children. If you weren't vaccinated as a child, a healthcare provider can tell you if you should get vaccinated now.

Read more about the Hepatitis A vaccine or the Hepatitis B vaccine.

The HPV vaccine protects against certain strains of HPV that cause genital warts or abnormal cell growth that can lead to cancer. The vaccine is recommended for all girls and boys ages 11 or 12. But you can only be vaccinated before the age of 45. If you weren't vaccinated, a healthcare provider can tell you if you should get vaccinated now.

Read more about the HPV vaccine.

With PrEP, PEP, TasP, or vaccinations, you still need to use condoms and lube—no matter your status, prevention matters.

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