What is PrEP?

PrEP stands for pre-exposure HIV prophylaxis. It’s a way of preventing HIV infection by taking a pill on an ongoing basis before sex and continued after sex. It’s taken by someone who doesn’t have HIV, to prevent them from getting HIV. The PrEP pill is an antiretroviral drug – the same type of pill taken by someone who already has HIV to treat HIV.

What does PrEP involve?

PrEP is most commonly taken as a once-a-day-pill. This pill is a combination of two drugs – tenofovir and emtricitabine. This is one of the same pills commonly taken by someone with HIV as an HIV treatment. Trials have shown that PrEP works best when it is taken regularly – this ensures that levels of drug in the blood are high enough to be protective against HIV.

Does PrEP have to be taken every day?

Recent trials have also explored if oral PrEP might work if taken less regularly, particularly before and soon after sex. This way of taking PrEP might be more popular for people who know in advance when they are going to have sex. Many HIV researchers think there are still questions to be answered about taking PrEP on a non-daily basis. Click here for more information on daily and non-daily use of PrEP.

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