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PrEP for HIV Prevention – Fact Sheet Updated June 2014

What’s PrEP? PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) refers to an antiretroviral (ARV) drug that can be taken by an HIV negative person before potential HIV exposure to reduce risk of HIV infection. While PrEP for HIV prevention is a new approach to reduce HIV transmission, “prophylaxis” is not a new concept or practice. Prophylaxis is simply taking medications prior to germ or virus exposure to prevent infection. Taking malaria drugs before traveling to countries where there is malaria is an example of prophylaxis. Currently, Truvada is the only ARV drug that has been approved for use as PrEP. No other drugs have been approved as PrEP to date, though other drugs are being tested.

Who can take PrEP? In July 2012, the United States Food and Drug Administration approved the ARV drug Truvada as PrEP for uninfected individuals who are at high risk of HIV infection. People who may be good candidates for PrEP include those who can’t or don’t use male or female condoms regularly; don’t know the status of their partners, use drugs, or have been diagnosed with STIs; or exchange sex for money, food, or housing. Someone who expresses interest in PrEP is also a good potential candidate. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released guidelines in May 2014 that instruct clinicians on provision and management of PrEP. Read the CDC guidelines at tinyurl.com/CDCprepguidelines.

How does PrEP prevent HIV? Taking Truvada as PrEP, consistently and correctly, prevents the reproduction of HIV, if exposure occurs, so the virus cannot establish itself in a person’s body.

What’s involved in taking PrEP? A person must first test negative for HIV. Truvada as PrEP is only available with a prescription. For Truvada to be effective at preventing HIV, the drug must be taken every day. Consistency and adherence are a must. Protection can be upwards of 90% for people who consistently take Truvada daily. People on PrEP should have honest, open, and on-going discussions with their provider about their sexual activity and their potential HIV risk. PrEP users need to visit their health care provider approximately every three months to screen for HIV and other STIs and to monitor for potential side effects and toxicities that may occur due to taking Truvada. PrEP users who test HIV-positive while taking Truvada will need to stop the drug as directed by their doctor.

What doesn’t PrEP do? PrEP does not protect a person against STIs like chlamydia, syphilis, herpes, or gonorrhoea. PrEP does not prevent pregnancy. PrEP is not a cure for HIV and it doesn’t work, on its own, as treatment for someone already living with HIV. PrEP doesn’t work if it isn’t taken consistently and correctly.

How do I know if PrEP might be a good option for me or someone else? First, learn more by visiting the blog www.MyPrEPexperience.blogspot.com for fact sheets and other informational resources, including personal stories of people using PrEP. Read the CDC’s PrEP Clinical Practice Guidelines at tinyurl.com/CDCprepguidelines. Check out Gilead’s website start.truvada.com (which includes information on a medication assistance program for Truvada as PrEP.)

PrEP Fact Sheet - June 2014  

Project RSP's fact sheet on PrEP, updated June 2014.

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