What is PrEP?
PrEP, or pre-exposure prophylaxis, is a prescription pill or injection that a person without HIV takes over time to prevent infection in case they come in contact with the virus.
PrEP is highly effective when taken as prescribed. It can be used by all genders and all sexes to protect themselves during vaginal, front hole, or anal sex or when sharing needles. PrEP is very safe and generally well tolerated by most people.
PrEP is available by prescription from a clinician or online PrEP services. Learn more about what’s involved in the PrEP care process below. If you need help with covering PrEP care costs, assistance programs may help.
Most public and private insurance plans cover some forms of PrEP. However, insurance plans can make it difficult. Consult this page for more information on how to resolve insurance issues.
Steps to PrEP Care
- Start PrEP: This begins with seeing a clinician such as a doctor, nurse practitioner, or pharmacist to get the prescription and blood work done. You will see a provider every 2–3 months while on PrEP to make sure you stay HIV-negative, treat any STDs, and support you with taking PrEP. PrEP is not available over the counter.
- Talk to your provider: If you’re able to discuss PrEP with them and they’ll prescribe it for you, then great! If they don’t know about PrEP and are willing to prescribe, they can read the federal PrEP Guideline or call the national CCC PrEPline. If they don’t provide PrEP, find a PrEP-friendly provider by entering your zip code in our directory or contacting an online PrEP service.
- Get your tests done: At your first medical PrEP visit, your provider should ask you about your goals for HIV prevention and ability to take PrEP; take routine tests for HIV, STDs, and kidney health (for oral pills); provide a prescription; and hopefully work with you on how you’ll cover the costs.
- Cover costs: If you have health coverage, most insurance covers PrEP. However, check your plan to see what your copay and deductible costs are (your out-of-pocket costs). If your out-of-pocket costs are high, contact various assistance programs to help cover those costs. Even if you’re uninsured, you can still get PrEP through some of these assistance programs.
- Keep up with your PrEP care: Being on PrEP means seeing a provider every 2–3 months, getting routine blood work done, and getting your PrEP regularly refilled on time. It also means making sure to re-apply to assistance programs on time if you use them.
- Possible HIV exposure: If you are currently not on PrEP but believe that you have been exposed to HIV within the past 72 hours, we suggest seeking PEP services. PEP is a 28-day pill regimen that can be taken within the first 72 hours after a possible HIV exposure. You can get PEP by contacting your provider, or going to your local urgent care or emergency room.
General information on using PrEP
This video from Project Inform presents general information about PrEP and how the pill can protect you from getting HIV.
NCATEC: A Brief Introduction to PrEP
This informative video presented by Christopher Hurt, MD explains the basics of PrEP.
HIV.gov: Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis
This page from HIV.org describes PrEP, its role in preventing HIV infection, and information on providers and insurance coverage.
Greater Than HIV: PrEP FAQs
Greater Than HIV answers frequently asked questions about PrEP, HIV testing, and treatment.