Pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, is a way for people who do not have HIV but who are at substantial risk of getting it to prevent HIV infection by taking a pill every day. The pill (brand name Truvada) contains 2 medicines (tenofovir and emtricitabine) that are used in combination with other medicines to treat HIV. When someone is exposed to HIV through sex or injection drug use, these medicines can work to keep the virus from establishing a permanent infection.
Who may benefit from PrEP?
The CDC guidance recommends that PrEP be offered to individuals with “ongoing, very high risk for acquiring HIV infection.” In practice, this can be difficult to determine and risk varies depending on local epidemiology. Identifying potential PrEP candidates begins with taking a sexual and drug use history. Some groups that may benefit from PrEP include:
- Men who have sex with men (MSM) who engage in condomless receptive anal sex
- MSM with multiple anal sex partners
- MSM with syphilis or rectal STDs (for example, rectal gonorrhea or chlamydia)
- MSM with one or more HIV-positive sex partners, particularly if the HIV-positive partner is not in care or does not have an undetectable viral load
- Heterosexual men and women with one or more HIV-positive sex partners
- Injection drug users
What medications are used in PrEP?
The pill approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for daily use as PrEP for people at very high risk of getting HIV infection is called Truvada®. Truvada® is a combination of 2 HIV medications (tenofovir and emtricitabine). These medicines work by blocking important pathways that HIV uses to set up an infection. If you take PrEP daily, the presence of the medicine in your bloodstream can often stop HIV from taking hold and spreading in your body. If you do not take PrEP every day, there may not be enough medicine in your bloodstream to block the virus. PrEP can only be prescribed by a healthcare provider and must be taken as directed to work.
Where Can I Get PrEP and How Can I Get Help to Pay for PrEP?
If you think you may be at high risk for HIV, talk to your healthcare provider about whether PrEP is right for you.
- Check with your insurance carrier to determine if PrEP is covered within their formulary Provision.
- The Gilead PrEP patient assistance Program will provide Truvada® at no cost for those who are uninsured and meet income guidelines.
- Fax application and proof of income to the program or call 1-855-330-5479: see Resources in the right-hand column.
- One bottle (30 day supply) shipped to providers office
- Patients have to re-apply (i.e. resubmit proof of eligibility) every 3-6 months
For Assistance with costs for PrEP through the Department of Public Health please click here.