PrEP as HIV Prevention
Pre-exposure prophylaxis (or PrEP) is a way for people who do not have HIV but who are at high risk of getting HIV to prevent HIV infection. There are currently three PrEP options available: two in pill form (Truvada and Descovy) and one in shot form (Apretude). Truvada is for people at risk through sex or injection drug use. Descovy is for people at risk through sex; Descovy is not for people assigned female at birth who are at risk for HIV through receptive vaginal sex. Apretude is for people at risk through sex who weigh at least 77 pounds
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.
When taken daily, PrEP is highly effective for preventing HIV. Studies have shown that PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV from sex by about 99% when taken as prescribed. Among people who inject drugs, PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV by at least 74% when taken as prescribed. PrEP is much less effective if it is not taken consistently.
People who use PrEP must commit to taking the drug and seeing their health care provider for follow-up every 3 months for the pills or every other month for the shot.
Since PrEP does not protect against other STDs, use condoms the right way every time you have sex.
Under the Affordable Care Act, PrEP mayust be covered by most insurance plans. If you do not have insurance or Medicaid, there are a number of assistance programs to help cover the costs associated with PrEP care. Learn more about Paying for PrEPpaying for PrEP here.
Ready, Set, PrEP: Find out if You Qualify to Enroll for Free PrEP Medications
HIV Treatment as Prevention
People with HIV should take medicine to treat HIV as soon as possible. HIV medicine is called antiretroviral therapy, or ART. If taken as prescribed, HIV medicine reduces the amount of HIV in the body (viral load) to a very low level, which keeps the immune system working and prevents illness. This is called viral suppression—defined as having less than 200 copies of HIV per milliliter of blood. HIV medicine can even make the viral load so low that a test can’t detect it. This is called an undetectable viral load.
Getting and keeping an undetectable viral load* is the best thing people with HIV can do to stay healthy. Another benefit of reducing the amount of virus in the body is that it helps prevent transmission to others through sex or syringe sharing, and from mother to child during pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding. This is sometimes referred to as treatment as prevention.
CDC HIV Treatment as Prevention
HIV Treatment Can Prevent Sexual Transmission (CDC)