Are you looking for a way to stay safe from HIV? You may wish to consider PrEP, a once-a-day pill that helps people remain HIV negative. PrEP is highly effective and FDA-approved!
Exposure = Coming into contact with
Prophylaxis = Something that prevents infection
Pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, is a way to prevent HIV infection by taking a daily pill. When used consistently, PrEP decreases the chance of infection by more than 90%.
The medication used for PrEP is called Truvada. How long you are on Truvada depends on your personal preference. You could choose to use it for just a few months or for several years, depending on your circumstances.
To remain safe from HIV while on PrEP, it is important to take the medication every day. More missed doses = less protection against HIV.
PrEP is available as a primary care service for patients 18 and older. To get started, you will need to schedule an appointment with your primary care provider (PCP). If you are new to Ambulatory Health Services (AHS) and you have health insurance, you will be asked to change your PCP the first time you come in for an appointment.
All Philadelphia residents are eligible to receive PrEP and other primary care services at the health centers regardless of insurance status. To schedule an appointment or ask a question, simply get in touch with a member of the PrEP Team (contact information below).
At your first PrEP medical visit, you will have the opportunity to discuss your health care needs with the doctor and have blood work to make sure that PrEP is a good fit for you medically. A week or two later, you will return to review your lab results and get your first prescription. As long as you are on PrEP, you will see your doctor every three months for primary care follow-up and lab work to make sure your body is responding well to the medication.
- Anyone 18 years and older who would like to remain safe from HIV and is searching for a way to do that should discuss PrEP with their primary care provider as one option.
- AHS serves all Philadelphia residents, regardless of insurance status or ability to pay. If you don’t have health insurance, you will be charged a sliding-scale copay ($5-20) for each office visit.
- To receive PrEP through AHS, you will need to need to switch your primary care doctor. You can always ask your current primary care provider to prescribe you PrEP. Need advice about how to talk to your PCP? Check out this resource from the CDC.
- If you use an onsite pharmacy, you will not be charged for your PrEP medication, regardless of your insurance status. If you have insurance and prefer to use an outside pharmacy, a member of the Project Team will link you to the Copay Assistance Program.
- PrEP only works when taken before the exposure, but there is another medication that can offer protection up to 72 hours after an exposure. This is called post-exposure prophylaxis, or PEP. PEP involves taking a combination of two HIV medicines for a period of 28 days. It is important to take the first dose of PEP within 72 hours of coming into contact with HIV, so be sure to get in touch right away. You can walk in to Health Center 1 to receive emergency PEP the same day. Have a question? Please contact a member of the PrEP Team.
- No HIV prevention method is 100% effective. If you are on PrEP, and you take it every day as prescribed, and you use condoms for protection during sex, the chances are very slim.
- PrEP does not offer 100% protection. Condoms do not offer 100% protection. Together, they offer better protection than either one alone. And remember, PrEP protects from HIV. There are other diseases transmitted through sex that are not prevented by PrEP and that are not curable, such as herpes and HPV (the virus that can cause warts or cancer). Finally, PrEP does not prevent pregnancy.
- No. Truvada has been used in combination with other drugs for the treatment of HIV for more than 10 years. In 2012, it was also approved by the Food and Drug Administration for prevention, used alone.
- Truvada is generally well tolerated, but as with any medicine, there are some potential side effects. Side effects are usually mild, and may include headaches, diarrhea, or an upset stomach. These effects typically disappear within a few days or weeks as the body gets used to the medication. More rarely, Truvada can affect kidney function. Regular check-ups while on PrEP can ensure that irritation to the kidneys, if it does occur, can be caught early and treated.
- Please contact a member of the PrEP Team.
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