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Daily PrEP to Prevent HIV

COVID-19 Update

New Yorkers must stay home and minimize contact with other people to reduce the spread of COVID-19 disease. You should wear a face covering when you need to be outside your home and cannot maintain at least six feet of distance from other people. A face covering is any well-secured paper or cloth (like a bandana or scarf) that covers your nose and mouth. Avoid visiting a clinic or hospital unless you are having a medical emergency. Some providers are offering remote visits via telephone or videoconference for routine or non-urgent care.

Safer Sex

PrEP

Emergency PEP

  • Stay home and call the 24/7 NYC PEP Hotline at 844-3-PEPNYC (844-373-7692) to start PEP.

HIV Treatment

  • Call or email your provider if you need to refill your HIV prescription or have questions about your treatment.

STI Testing

  • Stay home and skip your regularly scheduled visit for HIV and STI testing.
  • Call your health care provider or use your clinic’s online portal if you have symptoms or were exposed to an STI. Your provider may be able to prescribe oral treatment based on your symptoms or exposure without having you visit the clinic.
  • Call the NYC Sexual Health Clinic Hotline if you do not have a health care provider.

Provider Resources


Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is a safe and effective daily pill that can greatly reduce your risk of HIV infection.

To get started on PrEP, talk to your health care provider, or visit a Sexual Health Clinic. You can find other clinics that provide PrEP by calling 311 or visiting the NYC Health Map.

Who can benefit from taking PrEP

PrEP is for people who do not have HIV and are ready to take a pill for HIV prevention.

You should consider taking PrEP if you:

  • Do not always use condoms during sex
  • Recently had a sexually transmitted infection (STI)
  • Have a partner who has HIV and a detectable or unknown viral load
  • Are trying to conceive with a partner who has HIV
  • Have a partner who has an unknown HIV status or who refuses to get an HIV test
  • Have sex for money, drugs or a place to stay
  • Inject drugs or have a partner who injects drugs

An option for gay and bisexual men: Take PrEP only when you have sex

The recommended way to use PrEP is to take one pill once a day. Even on days when you do not have sex or inject drugs. Gay and bisexual men can also take PrEP “on demand”, only before and after sex only.

If taken correctly, PrEP on demand is highly effective at preventing HIV during anal sex. PrEP on demand only works if you can anticipate when you will have sex.

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.

You take PrEP on demand on a 2-1-1 schedule:

  • Two to 24 hours before sex: take two pills
  • Then take one pill daily for two days after sex

PrEP on demand has only been studied and endorsed for cisgender men who have sex with men.

  • It can protect the top and bottom partner during anal sex.
  • Persons who have vaginal or front sex should take PrEP every day because it takes more days to achieve protective levels of medicine in vaginal tissue.

If you want to use PrEP on demand, visit a Sexual Health Clinic or talk to your health care provider.

  • It can protect the top and bottom partner during anal sex.
  • People who have vaginal or front sex should take PrEP every day because it takes more days to achieve protective levels of medicine in vaginal tissue.

If you want to use PrEP on demand, visit a Sexual Health Clinic or talk to your health care provider.

Taking PrEP

PrEP is prescribed by a health care provider.

  • Before you start PrEP: Your health care provider will test you to make sure that you do not have HIV and that your kidneys are healthy.
  • While you are on PrEP: Your health care provider will test you every three months for HIV and every three to six months for other STIs. They will also check your kidneys at least once every six months.

To learn more about what to expect when taking PrEP, see the User's Guide to PrEP (PDF)
Other Languages: Español

Since PrEP was introduced in 2012, it has helped reduce new HIV infections across New York City.

How PrEP stops HIV

The medicines in PrEP stop HIV from spreading throughout your body. PrEP only stops HIV if you have enough medicine in your body, so you need to take it as prescribed. PrEP only protects you against HIV. It does not prevent other STIs or unintended pregnancy.

If taken almost every day, PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV through sex by 99% for men and over 90% for women having vaginal sex. In rare cases, people have gotten HIV despite taking PrEP as prescribed.

PrEP is safe

Two drugs have been approved for PrEP: Truvada® and Descovy®. Truvada® has been used to treat people with HIV since 2004 and has been used for PrEP since 2012. Descovy® was approved for gay and bisexual men and transgender women in 2019. Descovy® is as safe and effective as Truvada®.

Side effects

Most people on PrEP do not report any side effects. 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 health care provider can help you manage any side effects.

How to 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.

Learn more about your Payment Options for PrEP (PDF).

PrEP for undocumented immigrants

Immigration status should not affect your ability to get PrEP. New York City’s Sexual Health Clinics can help you explore your options for getting PrEP or other sexual health services, and do not require you to provide a Social Security Number.

PrEP for adolescents

If you are 17 or younger, you have the right to get sexual health services, including PrEP, without parental consent in New York.

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. This will help keep your PrEP prescription and related clinic visits confidential. Your PrEP provider can help you with this process.

Other options for HIV prevention

  • Use PEP in an emergency. If you are not taking PrEP and think you were recently exposed to HIV, go immediately to your health care provider. Ask for PEP, an emergency medicine that can prevent HIV. You can also call the NYC PEP hotline at 844-3-PEPNYC (844-373-7692), to get started on PEP right away. You can also get PEP at an emergency room if the other options are unavailable. If you are a sexual assault survivor, go immediately to an emergency room to ask for PEP and other medical services.
  • Use condoms. Find the size and type of condom you like. Condoms are available for free in all five boroughs. To find out where you can get free condoms, call 311 or visit the NYC Health Map.
  • Use lube. Use water-based or silicone-based lubricant, especially during anal sex.
  • Get tested for HIV. An HIV test is the only way to know if you or a partner has HIV.
  • Talk to your partners about testing. Ask your sex partners about the last time they had an HIV test. To be sure, get tested together.
  • Support your partners living with HIV. Encourage partners living with HIV to get HIV care and take their medicines every day, so they stay healthy and Get checked for other STIs. STIs can make it easier to get or spread HIV.
  • Limit alcohol and drug use when you have sex. Drinking or getting high when you have sex can put you at risk of HIV as it can make it hard to remember to use condoms. For help to stop using, call 888-NYC-WELL (888-692-9355). Interpreters are available for over 200 languages.
  • Use new syringes. If you inject drugs, avoid sharing syringes, cookers, cottons and drug solutions. Find out where you can get no cost new syringes in the city.

PrEP for Women

PrEP is an effective HIV prevention option for cisgender and transgender women.

Two drugs – Truvada® and Descovy® – are approved as PrEP for transgender women. Only Truvada® has been approved for cisgender women. There have been no studies of Descovy® to see if it prevents HIV during receptive vaginal sex. This means Descovy® may not be appropriate for cisgender women or transgender men.

Women who have vaginal sex need to be especially careful to take Truvada® daily 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.

PrEP does not interfere with hormone therapy

There is no evidence that PrEP interacts with estrogens or affects the levels of hormones in your body. Research has found that transgender women who take PrEP as prescribed are protected from HIV.

PrEP does not interfere with birth control

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.

PrEP can protect you and your fetus during pregnancy and your baby if you are nursing

PrEP can protect people who are trying to conceive with a partner that is living with HIV. PrEP is safe to use 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.

Additional Resources

More Information