What is PrEP and how does it lower my risk of contracting HIV?


PrEP stands for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, and normally goes by its brand name Truvada. It is a way to prevent the spread of HIV into an unaffected partner. It was approved the the FDA as a safe and effective way to prevent becoming infected with HIV. You must take PrEP every day for it to be effective. Your doctor will also ask you to have regular blood tests to make sure that you are not HIV negative and you are adhering to the prescription.

PrEP is not perfect. Most reports put its effectiveness at around 92-99% effective at preventing an HIV positive partner from passing it to an uninfected partner. Using a condom while using PrEP greatly enhances its effectiveness (almost 100% at preventing infection).

Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) is different from, PEP, post-exposure prophylaxis. PEP is taken immediately after you are exposed to HIV within 72 hours) and continued for 28 days. PEP is a last resort. Most people who would take PEP would be someone who had an unexpected exposure to HIV.

If you are interested in PrEP you should talk to your doctor. Truvada, can be expensive if you don't have insurance or have high deductables. However there are special programs set up to help you pay and drastically reduce your costs. Gilead has a special HIV Co-pay coupon card that is a good resource trying to lower the amount you will have to pay for the drug. You have to apply for the coupon, and it is need-based. The regular blood tests may or may not be covered by your insurance.

Truvada Coupon Card:
http://www.truvada.com/truvada-patient-assistance

Learn more about PrEP:
http://www.arcw.org/prep/
http://www.projectinform.org/prep/
http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/basics/prep.html