Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV
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Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) is one way to help prevent HIV infection.
Prophylaxis means disease prevention. In this approach, people who do not have HIV infection take
one pill once a day to reduce the risk of becoming infected. The pill includes two of the same medications used to treat HIV infection.
How does PrEP work to prevent HIV?
PrEP medicines limit HIV’s ability to enter into and grow in the body.
- These medications are typically used to treat people living with HIV. They are very effective in keeping the virus under control by preventing it from dividing and spreading in the body.
- By stopping HIV virus from dividing and spreading, these medications also prevent new infection.
- Truvada® is the only current FDA-approved medication to be used for PrEP.
Who should use PrEP for HIV?
PrEP is recommended for people who do not have HIV infection and who are at increased risk for HIV. This includes, but is not limited to:
- Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men who engage in unprotected sex.
- HIV-negative in men and women who have an HIV-positive sexual partner, a high number of sex partners, or who engage in unprotected sex.
- People who inject drugs (PWID).
- Commercial sex workers.
How well does PrEP work?
- Several studies have shown PrEP to be more than 90 percent effective in preventing HIV when used daily. The level of protection will decrease if doses are missed.
- PrEP is most effective when combined with other prevention efforts, including using condoms and engaging in counseling.
Does PrEP prevent other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) or pregnancy?
No, PrEP does not prevent other STDs or pregnancy. However, using safer sex practices, such as condoms, will help prevent STDs and pregnancy while also adding more protection from HIV.
What should an individual expect if they use PrEP?
Taking PrEP for HIV requires a commitment to:
- Intake interview and counseling.
- Testing for HIV and STDs, hepatitis B, and kidney function before starting PrEP.
- Taking a pill every day.
- Regular medical visits at least every three months after starting PrEP for follow-up HIV tests and evaluation.
Are there side effects to taking PrEP?
- People living with HIV have used Truvada® and other similar medications for several years. They are generally easy and safe to take.
- Some people experience nausea, headaches, and loss of appetite. These can be treated and are not life threatening.
- Rare long-term side effects include thinning of the bones and kidney problems.
Is PrEP covered by insurance?
Yes, most insurance and Colorado Medicaid cover the cost minus a co-pay or deductible.
Who can individuals contact to talk about using PrEP?
Individuals who think they are at increased risk for HIV should talk with the Linkage to Care team at Denver Public Health by calling 303-602-3652 for information, questions about insurance coverage, and referrals. You may also send an email to our team.