PrEP stands for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis.
PrEP is a HIV prevention method that involves HIV negative people taking anti-HIV medications daily to help prevent HIV infection. Several studies have shown that PrEP can reduce the risk of becoming HIV-infected when taken daily as part of a package of prevention services. The only drug that is currently approved for use as PrEP by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is Truvada, a medication commonly used to treat HIV positive individuals.
Studies have shown that PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV from sex by more than 90% when used consistently. Among people who inject drugs, PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV by more than 70% when used consistently.
The details of these studies can be found at www.cdc.gov/hiv/prep
Some groups that may benefit from PrEP include:
Truvada is a safe and well-tolerated drug. About 1 in 10 people in PrEP studies reported they had nausea, stomach pain, or weight loss when they first started taking Truvada. In most people, these side effects improved or went away after taking Truvada for a few weeks.
A small number of people had a decrease in kidney function that returned to normal when they stopped taking PrEP. It is important to have regular blood tests to monitor your kidney function while taking PrEP. Small losses of bone density (thickness) have also been seen in people taking Truvada; however, these changes have not been associated with an increase in bone fractures.
Be clear. Take out your notes and tell your doctor that you are interested in PrEP right away. Do not be shy. Give your doctor all the details about your life that could be important to your health. Don’t worry about being judged. If your sex life is a hard topic to talk about, say that to your doctor. It will help to start the conversation. Ask questions. You want to be sure that you understand what your doctor is telling you. Take notes during your visit so that you can remember what your doctor said.
Please see the brochure Talk to Your Doctor About PrEP in English and Spanish, which has some questions you should ask your health care provider when discussing whether PrEP (taking daily HIV medicines) is right for you.
Condoms have been and continue to be an effective tool in reducing HIV risk. They are also the only tool that protects against both HIV and certain other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and prevents pregnancy when used correctly and consistently.
Using condoms correctly and consistently while taking PrEP will provide the maximal protection against HIV and STIs. The choice to use condoms, like the choice to use PrEP, is a personal decision. The important thing is to find an HIV prevention strategy that fits your needs and meets your sexual health goals.
Most people who want PrEP are able to access it at little or no cost, regardless of insurance status.
If you have health insurance (including Medi-Cal), you can:
1) Talk to your primary care physician about getting a prescription for PrEP,
2) Find a PrEP-friendly provider at Please PrEP Me,
3) Call the Citywide PrEP Navigation Line for assistance: (415) 634-PrEP (7737).
Co payment assistance programs are available to help cover out-of-pocket costs of PrEP.
If you do not have health insurance call the Citywide PrEP Navigation Line for assistance: (415) 634-PrEP (7737).
If you live in San Francisco and are enrolled in Healthy San Francisco: Individuals with SFDPH supported medical homes (which include all SFDPH clinics and most community clinics) who are enrolled in Healthy San Francisco can access PrEP and should first speak to their primary care provider.
If you live elsewhere in California, please visit www.pleaseprepme.org for state-wide providers.
Please visit the San Francisco City Clinic website for Resources for Providers.
Expert Clinical Consultation on PrEP is available by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
The San Francisco Department of Public Health City Clinic provides free or low-cost diagnosis & treatment of sexually transmitted diseases. They offer free condoms, emergency contraception and Post-Exposure Prevention (PEP) as well as PrEP. This website can answer many questions related to your sexual health.
CDC is the nation’s health protection agency; their website has good PrEP 101 information and answers to Frequently Asked Questions.
This primer serves as a brief how to guide for providers interested in providing PrEP to their patients.
Project Inform has many resources on PrEP including downloadable brochures and educational materials.
The San Francisco AIDS Foundation has a long history in helping people access PrEP and has materials specific to gay men, to transwomen and to women on their website.
PrEP Watch uses education, policy analysis, advocacy and a network of global collaborations to accelerate the ethical development and global delivery of new and emerging HIV prevention options as part of a comprehensive response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
Positively Aware is a publication of TPAN, the Test Positive Aware Network which empowers everyone living with or at risk for HIV/AIDS to live open, healthy, and productive lives. Lots of downloadable materials, especially for those wondering whether PrEP is the right choice.
NMAC leads with race to urgently fight for health equity and racial justice to end the HIV epidemic in America. NMAC’s PrEP Education and Awareness program target audience is young gay men, in particular Black and Latino gay men aged 18-25 years old.
HIVE is a leader in prenatal, pre-conception and women’s HIV care, and the program’s mission is to advance reproductive and sexual wellness for individuals, families and com munities affected by HIV in San Francisco and beyond. The website has information for on PrEP implementation outside of family planning as well and has information specific to transwomen and transmen.