What is HIV PrEP?

If you are at risk of being infected with HIV (human immunodeficiency virus), you can take medicines that lower your risk for infection. Taking these medicines is called pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).

Is PrEP right for me?

PrEP may be right for you if you are HIV negative and any of the following apply to you:

You have anal or vaginal sex and you:

  • have a sexual partner who is living with HIV (especially if the partner has an unknown or detectable viral load); or
  • are not always using condoms with sex; or
  • have been diagnosed with an STI (sexually transmitted infection) in the past 6 months

You inject drugs and you:

  • have an injection partner who is living with HIV; or
  • share needles, syringes, or other equipment to inject drugs

You have been prescribed HIV PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) before and you:

  • have ongoing high-risk exposure to HIV through sex or injection drug use
  • If you are a woman and have a partner who is living with HIV and are considering getting pregnant, PrEP may be an option to help protect you and your baby from getting HIV while you try to get pregnant, during pregnancy, or while breastfeeding. Let your Care Pathway Center team know if you are trying to get pregnant.

Check out the CDC HIV Risk Reduction Tool for more information on reducing your HIV risk.

Is PrEP safe?

  • PrEP is very safe but some people experience mild upset stomach when they first start taking the medications.
  • Tell your Care Pathway Center health team about any underlying medical conditions you have, including:
  • problems with your kidneys; or
  • a history of osteoporosis or bone disease; or
  • Hepatitis B infection

Can adolescents take PrEP?

Yes. PrEP is approved for use by adolescents who are HIV negative and weigh at least 75 pounds (35 kg) and are at risk for getting HIV from sex or injection drug use.

Can I take PrEP if I was recently exposed to HIV?

If you think you may have been exposed to HIV in the last 72 hours, go to an urgent care center or an emergency department as soon as possible. You may need to start taking medicine for HIV PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis).

What else should I know about PrEP?

PrEP is only one component of protecting yourself from HIV infection. In addition to PrEP, other methods of protection are still recommended, including the use of condoms.

PrEP will not protect you from other STIs (sexually transmitted infections).


How can I start PrEP?

Talk to your primary care provider or contact Care Pathway Center if you think PrEP may be right for you. PrEP is only available by prescription.

  • Before beginning PrEP, you must take an HIV test to make sure you don’t have HIV.
  • While taking PrEP, you will need to have your labs checked every 2-3 months to make sure:
    • you are HIV negative
    • you have no other STIs (sexually transmitted infections)

What if I need to stop taking PrEP?

There are several reasons why people stop taking PrEP:

  • Your risk of getting HIV becomes low because of changes in your life.
  • You don’t want to take a pill as prescribed or forget to take your pills.
  • You have side effects from the medicine that are interfering with your life.
  • Blood tests show that your body is reacting to PrEP in unsafe ways.

If I stopped taking PrEP, how do I start taking it again?

Talk to your Care Pathway Center team if you plan to stop or restart PrEP so we can make sure it is done safely. You will need to take an HIV test before you restart PrEP to make sure you don’t have HIV.

Do I need to take PrEP every day in order to be protected?

If you think that you will not be able to take your PrEP medication as prescribed, talk to your Care Pathway Center team about HIV prevention options that may work better for you.