PRE-EXPOSURE PROPHYLAXIS (PrEP)
Pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, is a pill taken daily to prevent HIV. Daily PrEP use reduces the risk of getting HIV through sex by about 99%. Daily PrEP use also reduces the risk of getting HIV through injection drug use by more than 70%. Today, there is only one combination drug that is used as PrEP: oral emtricitabine/tenofovir disoproxil fumarate 200mg/300mg (Truvada®). PrEP is safe and effective for adults and adolescents weighing above 35 kilograms (77 pounds).
PrEP is intended for use before a possible exposure to HIV. If you think you have been exposed to HIV through needlestick, condomless sex, or by sharing needles or works to prepare drugs within the last 72 hours.
PrEP works best when taken as prescribed and when it is used with other prevention options. When you combine options, you further reduce the risk of getting HIV from another person. Combination prevention lets you decide which prevention option(s) are best for your lifestyle.
Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) means taking HIV medicines very soon after a possible exposure to HIV to prevent becoming infected with HIV.
PEP is intended for emergency situations. It is not meant for regular use by people who may be exposed to HIV frequently.
PEP must be started within 72 hours (3 days) after a possible exposure to HIV. The sooner you start PEP after a possible HIV exposure, the better.
If you are prescribed PEP, you will take HIV medicines every day for 28 days.
Where can I get PrEP?
You can get PrEP from your physician, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant; you just have to ask for it by name. If your provider is not familiar with PrEP, you can direct them to the CDC PrEP information page.
Visit the Texas DSHS PrEP Directory or the National Prevention Information Network Directory for a listing of clinics and doctors who prescribe PrEP near you. If you do not see any clinics near you or ones that you are comfortable going to, you may be able to get PrEP delivered discreetly to your home or by going to a pharmacy.
What are the steps to getting on PrEP?
At your first healthcare visit, you will be asked questions to help you see if PrEP is a good fit. This includes questions about your sexual behaviors, types of partners, and medical history. In order to get on PrEP, you must take HIV and STD tests, have your kidney function checked, and be assessed for hepatitis B and C infections. Your healthcare provider will help with any STD treatments and work with you to address any health concerns.
PrEP can be accessed at most pharmacies around Texas. Some pharmacies can also mail or deliver the medicine directly to you.
After you start taking PrEP daily, you must see your healthcare provider on a regular basis. Every three to six months, s/he will see how you are doing on the medicines, discuss any side effects, and ask about how often you are taking PrEP. At these visits, you will be re-tested for HIV, STDs, and kidney function.
You can stop and start daily PrEP at different times in your life, but you must notify and consult with your healthcare provider.