Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is a daily medicine that can reduce your chance of getting HIV. PrEP is most effective when taken as prescribed and used with other prevention methods like condoms. PrEP Navigators are available through our Linkage to Care program to help answer any questions you may have regarding PrEP. There are many things to consider when getting on PrEP including the cost of medication and medical visits. Payment assistance programs may be available to provide PrEP at low or no cost. Denver Public Health is committed to making sure individuals have what they need to make the best decisions for themselves and their sexual health. If you'd like to get tested, STD testing and treatment is available through the Sexual Health clinic, or visit one of our STD and HIV testing locations throughout the community.
If you have been exposed to HIV within the last 72 hours please read about Post-exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) and next steps.
How does PrEP work to prevent HIV?
- Truvada® and Descovy® are the only FDA-approved medications used for PrEP and are taken daily by mouth. Both medications prevent HIV from replicating and spreading in the body. Several studies have shown PrEP to be more than 90% effective in preventing HIV when used daily. PrEP is most effective when taken as prescribed. The level of protection decreases if doses are missed.
- While the medicines both work in the same way, Descovy® is NOT currently approved for individuals having receptive vaginal/front hole sex.
Who should use PrEP?
PrEP is recommended for people who are not living with HIV and are at an increased risk of getting HIV. This includes but is not limited to individuals with the following characteristics:
- Engaging in condom-less sex with multiple partners
- Engaging in condom-less sex with someone living with HIV with a detectable or unknown viral load
- A history of injection drug use
- A history of sharing injection equipment
- An injecting drug partner living with HIV
- A diagnosis of a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI)/Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) in the last six months
- Engaging in commercial sex work
Does PrEP prevent other sexually transmitted infections (STIs)?
No, PrEP only prevents you from getting HIV. However, using safer sex practices, such as condoms, will help prevent STIs.
Possible side effects of taking PrEP
- Some short-term side effects may include gas, nausea, headaches, and loss of appetite which may lessen over the first few weeks of taking PrEP.
- Rare long-term side effects may include loss of bone density and kidney problems, which return to normal once PrEP is stopped.
- There is no evidence that the PrEP medicines (tenofovir and emtricitabine) interact with gender affirming hormones or affect the levels of hormones in your body.
Is PrEP covered by insurance?
- Yes, most insurance plans including Medicaid cover the cost of PrEP. Co-pays and/or deductibles may still apply.
- There are payment assistance programs that you may qualify for that provides PrEP at low or no cost including the Public Health Intervention Program (PHIP), Gilead’s Advancing Access, and Gilead’s Co-pay Program.
What to expect when taking PrEP
- Ongoing testing for HIV, STIs, and kidney function
- Taking a pill every day
- PrEP medical visits every three months
- If applicable, annual recertification’s for payment assistance programs
If you think that PrEP is right for you and you would like to schedule an appointment, please call our Linkage to Care team at (303) 602-3652.