What is HIV PrEP - Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis
Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is a daily pill that can help reduce your risk of HIV infection.
Is PrEP right for me?
PrEP can be for anyone, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. You must be HIV negative to start PrEP.
You may want to consider taking PrEP if you:
- Do not always use condoms or other barriers during sex
- Recently had a sexually transmitted infection (STI)
- Have more than one sexual partner
- Have a partner who has sex with other people
- Have a partner who has HIV and a detectable or unknown viral load
- Are trying to conceive a child with a partner who has HIV
- Have sex in exchange for things that you need (like money, drugs, food, or housing)
- Use stimulants (like meth or cocaine) while having sex
- Inject drugs or have a partner who injects drugs
- Have sex in a city that has a high population of people living with HIV
How does PrEP work?
If you are exposed to HIV, the medicines in PrEP stop the virus from multiplying, preventing an HIV infection. Currently, the only medication approved as PrEP is called Truvada, which is a combination of two different medications. PrEP only works if you have enough medicine in your body, so taking it every day is important.
If I'm taking PrEP, do I still need condoms?
PrEP is an effective HIV prevention option for people who don’t always use condoms every time they have sex, but PrEP only prevents HIV. Condoms can prevent other sexually transmitted infections and unintended pregnancy.
If my partner is HIV+ and undetectable, do I still need PrEP?
Everyone in a relationship is responsible for HIV prevention. If you are HIV negative and have an HIV+ partner, you may want to consider PrEP if you have other sex partners, are unsure of your partner’s viral load, or if you would feel more secure with the added protection of PrEP.
How can I pay for PrEP?
In New York State, PrEP is covered by Medicaid and most health insurance plans. There are also other insurance plans and programs that can help pay for the cost of PrEP. The Ivy Clinic’s staff can assist with applications and co-pays to ensure that PrEP is affordable for you, even if you do not have insurance, have confidentiality concerns, are an undocumented immigrant, or are still on your parent’s insurance and don’t want them to know you are on PrEP.
PrEP for Women
When taken daily, PrEP is an effective HIV prevention option for cisgender and transgender women, regardless of the gender of their sex partners. If you are having vaginal sex, it’s especially important to take PrEP every day, in order to have enough medicine in the vaginal tissue to prevent HIV.
PrEP also does not interfere with hormone therapy, like estrogen or progestin. Research has shown that transgender women can take PrEP safely to prevent HIV.
PrEP for Pregnancy
If you are taking birth control, you should continue to do so, because PrEP only prevents HIV, not pregnancy. PrEP does not interact with birth control, so they are safe to take together.
If you are trying to become pregnant with an HIV+ partner, PrEP can help prevent HIV transmission during conception. It’s safe for the parent and child during and after pregnancy, and PrEP has not been shown to affect fertility.
How can I start PrEP?
Call the Ivy Clinic and ask for an appointment! A PrEP Specialist will make an appointment for a screening with you to answer any questions that you have, discuss insurance, and talk about testing. Then you’ll have a clinical visit and receive HIV and STI testing. Once you start PrEP, you’ll need to have an appointment every three months to be tested for HIV and receive your next prescription.
To make an appointment, please call the Ivy Clinic at 607-795-8161.