Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is a safe and effective daily pill that can greatly reduce your risk of HIV infection. PrEP is much more effective at stopping HIV if you take it every day.
Is PrEP right for me?
To find out if PrEP is right for you, first get tested for HIV. PrEP is for HIV-negative persons who are ready to take a daily pill.
You should consider taking PrEP if you:
How does PrEP stop HIV?
If you are exposed to HIV, the medicines in PrEP stop the virus from spreading throughout your body, preventing an HIV infection. PrEP only works if you have enough medicine in your body, so you need to take PrEP every day.
Truvada® — the only medication currently approved as PrEP — is a combination of emtricitabine (Emtriva®) and tenofovir (Viread®). These are the same safe medicines that many people with HIV use to stay healthy.
Is PrEP safe? What are the side effects?
PrEP is safe. Truvada®, has been used to treat people with HIV since 2004.
Most people on PrEP do not report any side effects. For those who do, the most common side effects are nausea, upset stomach, fatigue and headaches. These symptoms often get better or go away within the first month of taking PrEP. Rare side effects include kidney or bone problems. Your doctor or nurse can help you manage any side effects.
How well does PrEP work?
PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV through sex by over 90% for people who take the pill at least four days a week. Your HIV risk is much lower if you take PrEP every day.
Since PrEP was introduced in 2012, it has helped reduce new HIV infections across New York City.
If I take PrEP, do I still have to use condoms?
PrEP is an effective HIV prevention option for people who do not use condoms every time they have sex, but PrEP only protects you against HIV. Condoms prevent other STIs and unintended pregnancy.
How do I take PrEP?
With PrEP, you take a pill once a day, even on days that you do not have sex or inject drugs.
PrEP is prescribed by a doctor or nurse.
How long does it take for PrEP to work?
Studies suggest that you need to take daily PrEP for at least:
It is not yet known how many days you need to take PrEP before it can provide maximum protection when you are the insertive or “top” partner during anal or vaginal sex.
How can I pay for PrEP?
In New York State, PrEP is covered by Medicaid and most health insurance plans.
If you do not have insurance or have a high co-pay, you may be eligible for a patient assistance program that helps pay for PrEP. Medical clinics can also help patients apply. You can enroll into a low-cost insurance plan by calling 311.
Learn more about your Payment Options for PrEP (PDF).
Can I get PrEP if I am an undocumented immigrant
Immigration status does not affect your ability to get PrEP. You can safely talk with staff at our Sexual Health Clinics about how your immigration status may affect your options for PrEP and other HIV prevention methods.
If I am covered by my parents’ insurance, will they be notified that I am on PrEP?
No. Even if you are younger than 18, parental permission is not required to start PrEP. Your PrEP prescription and related visits to the clinic will be confidential.
If you are covered by your parents' insurance, you can take steps to stop an “Explanation of Benefits” form from being sent to your parents or policyholder. Your PrEP provider can help you with this process.
How else can I stay HIV-negative?
PrEP is an effective HIV prevention option for cisgender and transgender women when taken daily.
Women who have vaginal sex need to be especially careful to take PrEP every day to maintain enough medicine in their vaginal tissue to prevent an HIV infection.
Women who have sex with women and who may be exposed to HIV through sex or injecting drugs can also benefit from PrEP.
Will PrEP interfere with my birth control?
No. Research shows that PrEP does not interfere with hormone-based birth control. PrEP only prevents HIV, so you still need to use birth control or condoms to prevent unintended pregnancy and other STIs.
Will PrEP interfere with my hormone therapy?
No. There is no evidence that PrEP interacts with estrogens (or progestins) or affects the levels of hormones in your body. Research has found that transgender women who take PrEP daily are protected from HIV.
Can I take PrEP while trying to get pregnant or breastfeeding?
Yes. PrEP can protect women who are trying to conceive a child with an HIV-positive partner. PrEP is safe for the mother and child both during and after pregnancy, and has not been shown to affect fertility.
If you would like to take PrEP while trying to conceive, talk with your doctor. You may need to consult an expert for more guidance about using PrEP this way.