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Preventing HIV

Today, we have the tools not only to end the HIV epidemic, but also to stop anyone from becoming HIV positive.

You can help to prevent the transmission of HIV by:

  • not having sex
  • limiting your number of sexual partners
  • never sharing needles
  • using condoms the right way every time you have sex

You also may be able to take advantage of newer medicines such as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP). These medications, when used by someone who is HIV negative, can make it almost impossible to become HIV positive.

You can use the links below to learn more about preventing HIV and what you can do--no matter what your HIV status is--to protect yourself and prevent the spread of HIV.

Find out about how HIV is transmitted.

Learn the basics about HIV prevention.

Find an HIV testing site in Philadelphia.


Pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, is a way to prevent HIV infection by taking a daily pill. When used correctly, PrEP prevents your chance of getting HIV by more than 90%.

How long you are on PrEP depends on your personal situation. You could choose to use it for just a few months or for several years, depending on your circumstances.

Learn more about PrEP.

You should talk to your doctor if you are interested in PrEP. If you don’t have a doctor or if your doctor doesn’t know about PrEP, you can use the interactive map below to find a PrEP provider in Philadelphia.


Post-exposure prophylaxis, or PEP, is a way to prevent HIV infection in an emergency.

PEP involves taking a combination of two medications for 28 days. It is important to start PEP as soon as possible, but no more than 72 hours (three days) after the exposure (for example, an unprotected sexual encounter or a needle stick).

PEP is a safe and effective prevention tool, but does not guarantee that a person will not become infected after an exposure.

Learn more about PEP.

You can get PEP from your doctor. If you do not have a doctor or your doctor doesn’t know about PEP, you can come to Health Center 1, located at 500 South Broad Street, and say that you may have been exposed to HIV. A doctor will talk to you and determine if PEP is the right choice for you. If so, you will receive a five-day supply of medication and a referral for a follow-up appointment. Remember, PEP is time-sensitive, so be sure to come in as soon as possible (within three days) after you think you may have been exposed.


As many times as we have said it, the fact remains true that condoms are an effective way to prevent picking up or passing on HIV or other sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Learn more about how to use condoms.

You can order free condoms here. Don't forget to pick up some lube while you're at it.

Health Information Hotline

If you need more information about HIV prevention, please call the Health Information Helpline at 215-985-2437. Staff is available Monday through Friday from 8:00 am. to 5:30 pm.

Para informatión in Español