PrEP

Protect yourself from HIV

Community Healthcare Network is your one-stop shop for all PrEP services. PrEP may be right for you if you are HIV Negative and have…

  • Unprotected sex
  • Multiple sex partners
  • An HIV positive partner
  • A history of STIs in the last 6 months
  • Sex in exchange for money and services

What are PrEP and PEP and how are they different?

PrEP stands for pre-exposure prophylaxis. PrEP is a pill that can protect you from HIV. You have to take the pill every day for it to work. People take PrEP “pre” or before being exposed to HIV. Once you have been taking PrEP for 20 days, if you have sex with someone who has HIV, the chance of you getting HIV is much lower.

PEP stands for post-exposure prophylaxis. PEP is two pills that you take for 28 days after having sex with someone you know or think could have HIV. You have to take PEP within 36 hours being exposed to HIV. If you take PEP, you are a lot less likely to get HIV.

How do PrEP and PEP work to prevent HIV?

To survive, HIV needs to make copies of itself to spread through the body. If HIV gets into your body, PrEP and PEP stop the virus from making copies. If the virus can’t make copies, you won’t get HIV.

How well do PrEP and PEP work?

PrEP: A lot of studies have looked at PrEP. They have found that if you take PrEP every day you are protected against HIV by over 90%. 

 

 

PEP: Studies of PEP suggest that PEP can lower the risk of HIV infection over 80%. 

How do you take PrEP and PEP? 

Both PrEP and PEP must be taken every day (some PEP medicines have to be taken twice-a-day). 

Why is it important to take it every day?

It is important to take your pills every day, otherwise they won’t work. The HIV virus makes copies really fast. You need a build up of medicine in your body to stop the virus from making copies. If you take the medicine every day, there should be enough in your body to protect you 92-99%. If you miss any pills, you are less protected. If you miss more than 3 pills in a week, you are no longer protected.

How soon is someone protected once they start taking PrEP?

·         For anal sex, you are protected after taking PrEP for 7 days. 

·         For vaginal sex, or needle sharing, you are protected after taking PrEP for 21 days.

What are the side effects of PrEP and PEP and what can I do about them?

Most people on PrEP or PEP do not have any side effects. For those who do, the most common side effects are upset stomach, headaches and being tired. These symptoms usually stop after the first month. For a very few people PrEP can effect your kidney, so you doctor will check your kidneys every 6 months.

What else should I know?

Once you start taking PrEP, keep taking it. Don’t start and stop! If you stop taking PrEP, get HIV, and then start taking PrEP again, the virus can become “resistant” to the medicine. What this means is that the virus has changed in a way that a medicine no longer stops it from making copies. This means that you and your doctor would have fewer options to treat your HIV.

What kind of health care and follow-up is necessary?

Patients on PrEP need to:

  • Get tested for HIV every 3 months.

  • Get tested for other Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) every 3 months. 

  • Come to the clinic for medical screening and refills every 3 months.

  • Pick up a refill of their medicine every month.

  • Take the pill every day.

Patients on PEP need to:

  • Get tested for HIV 30-days and 90-days after starting PEP.

  • Get tested and treated for other STIs.

  • Take the pill(s), the way your doctor told you, every day for 28 days. 

  • Make a plan to protect yourself from HIV in the future.