What is PrEP?
Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is a course of drugs taken to protect from HIV infection. PrEP is approved by the FDA and is safe and effective at preventing HIV infection.
How does PrEP work?
PrEP works by preventing HIV from replicating in the body. It reduces the risk of getting HIV from sex by about 99% and reduces the risk by at least 74% of people who inject drugs when taken as prescribed. PrEP is much less effective when it isn’t taken consistently.
There are two ways to take it. One tablet per day, for seven days before contact and every day for as long as needed. Patients can take PrEP “on-demand,” that is, before having planned sex. The most common side effects are dizziness, nausea, and headache. However, the side effects often clear up after a week.
Is PrEP safe?
PrEP is safe. No significant health effects have been seen in HIV-negative people who have taken PrEP for up to 5 years. Some people taking PrEP may have temporary side effects, like nausea, diarrhea, headache, fatigue, and stomach pain. These side effects are usually not severe and go away over time. If you are taking PrEP, tell your healthcare provider if you have any side effect that bothers you or does not go away.
Note that PrEP protects you against HIV but not against other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or other types of conditions. Combining PrEP with condoms will reduce your risk of getting other STIs.