What is PrEP?
Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) is a once-daily pill taken orally to reduce the risk of acquiring HIV. The goal of PrEP is to prevent HIV from replicating in the body once exposed to the virus.
Currently, the only medication approved by the FDA for PrEP is tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (TDF) 300 mg co-formulated with emtricitabine (FTC) 200 mg, known as Truvada®.
When combined with other prevention strategies including the consistent and correct use of condoms, PrEP is recommended as a prevention option for individuals at higher risk of acquiring HIV including adult men who have sex with men (MSM), high-risk heterosexual adults, injection drug users (IDU), and adults whose partners live with HIV.
Why should I take PrEP?
Without a cure or vaccine currently available for HIV, prevention is key. When taken every day as prescribed by a health care provider, PrEP provides a high level of protection against HIV. It is even more effective when combined with condoms and other HIV prevention tools. In several studies, the risk of HIV was up to 92% lower for those taking PrEP consistently than for those not taking PrEP.
Who should take PrEP?
The CDC recommends PrEP be considered for those who are currently HIV-negative and at substantial risk for HIV. This includes:
- Individuals in an ongoing relationship with an HIV-positive partner.
- Individuals not in a mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who recently tested HIV-negative
- Gay or bisexual men who have anal sex (insertive or receptive) without a condom or have been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the past 6 months
- Heterosexual men or women not regularly using condoms during sex with partners of unknown HIV status
- Individuals who inject drugs, or have injected illicit drugs in the past 6 months and who have shared injection equipment or have been in drug treatment for injection drug use in the past 6 months
For heterosexual couples where one partner is living with HIV and the other is HIV-negative, PrEP is also one of several options to protect an HIV-negative partner during conception and pregnancy.
How can I start taking PrEP?
If you think you may be at risk for HIV, your health care provider can help you determine if PrEP is right for you. You will have to obtain a general physical as well as be tested for HIV and other STIs. Your blood will also be tested to see if your kidneys are working well.
If your tests indicate it would be safe for you to take PrEP, your provider may give you a prescription. Once you begin taking PrEP, you will need to follow up with your doctor every 3 months to get additional blood tests and see if your body is responding well to PrEP. You will also receive counseling sexual health and injection drug use counseling.
How long does it take for PrEP to start working?
To effectively prevent HIV infection, PrEP must be taken every day for 7 days for anal exposure, and 20 consecutive days for vaginal or injection drug risk exposures before you are adequately protected.
Does insurance cover PrEP?
Since PrEP is approved by the FDA, it is covered by some health insurance providers. It is also available through some government insurance programs like Medicaid.
How can I get PrEP without insurance?
If you do not have health insurance or your health insurance does not cover PrEP, there are programs in place to help you with the cost of medication including the Gilead Medication Assistance Program, Truvada Patient Assistance Program, and the Partnership for Prescription Assistance Program.
Where can I find PrEP?
Talk to your health care provider about PrEP or see below for other options.
Florida’s State Surgeon General has established a goal of making PrEP available at all 67 county health departments by December 2018. Check the Provider Directory or visit the FloridaHealth website for additional resources.
There are two national directories: PrEPLocator.org and PleasePrEPMe.org.