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PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis)

What Is PrEP?

PrEP stands for pre-exposure prophylaxis. It is when someone who does not have HIV takes medicines to lower their chances of getting HIV. Sometimes, this medicine is taken by mouth every day, and sometimes it's given as an injection every 2 months.

Who Should Take PrEP?

People at risk for HIV should take PrEP, such as those who:

  • have a sexual partner who is HIV-positive
  • have anal sex without a condom
  • have been diagnosed with an STD (sexually transmitted disease) in the past 6 months
  • have sex without a condom with people whose HIV status is not known
  • share needles with others

Does PrEP Always Prevent Someone From Getting HIV?

When taken correctly, PrEP prevents HIV transmission most — but not all — of the time. In addition to taking the PrEP medicine, using a condom every time and for every form of sex (vaginal, oral, anal) helps prevent HIV and other STDs.

Does PrEP Protect People From Other STDs?

No, PrEP does not protect people from getting other STDs. So, someone taking PrEP needs to use a condom every time and for every form of sex (vaginal, oral, anal) to lower their risk of getting other STDs.

How Does Someone Get PrEP?

A health care provider prescribes PrEP. Someone who is prescribed medicine taken by mouth must take it every day for it to work. Someone who is prescribed medicine given as an injection should go to all appointments so that they get the medicine on time. An HIV test is done when someone starts PrEP and every 3 months after that.

Reviewed by: Larissa Hirsch, MD
Date Reviewed: Jul 10, 2023

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