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Pre- and Post-Exposure Prophylaxis
Learn about the steps you can take to prevent acquiring HIV and what you can do if you have been exposed to it, with pre- and post-exposure treatments.
Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP)
PrEP is a once daily medication for HIV negative individuals to reduce the risk of HIV infection. Currently, there are two FDA-approved medications for PrEP. Both are single pills that include combinations of two anti-HIV drugs.
- Truvada® is for all individuals at risk of getting HIV weighing ≥35 kg (77 lbs.).
- Descovy® is for all individuals weighing ≥35 kg (77 lbs.) to reduce the risk of HIV infection, excluding individuals at risk from receptive vaginal sex (e.g., women) because its effectiveness in this population has not been evaluated yet, and studies are underway among women.
Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP)
PEP is a medication taken after potential exposure to HIV through sex or through sharing needles or syringes.
PEP is for any individual who thinks they may have been exposed to HIV. This could be from unprotected sex, a condom breaking, sharing needles during injected drug use, or through being sexually assaulted.
It is important to note that PEP is time sensitive: PEP must be started within 72 hours (three days) after a possible exposure to HIV.
PEP must be prescribed by the health care provider. PEP is started within 72 hours (three days) of exposure and is taken for 28 days. Individuals taking PEP will need to have a follow-up visit with a health care provide after completing PEP.
It is important to note that you cannot take PEP if you have unprotected sex. If you are consistently having unprotected sex, PrEP is the right option for you.
Depending on the circumstances of the recent HIV exposure, PEP can be comprised of two or three HIV medicines. As any medicines, PEP may cause side effects in some people. These side effects can be treated and usually aren’t dangerous.
PEP medications may interact with other medications; it is important let your health care providers know what medications you are taking.
PEP's cost is covered by most insurance programs and Medicaid plans. There are also medication assistance programs available that provide free or reduced cost PEP to people with limited income or no insurance.
PEP can be access through a health care provider or in an urgent care or emergency department setting.