What is PrEP?
Pre-exposure prophylaxis (or PrEP) is a once daily medication (brand name Truvada) used to reduce the chances of contracting HIV.
What is PrEP?
PrEP - an HIV Prevention Option
How effective is PrEP?
With sexual transmission of HIV, PrEP lowers the chance of transmission by 92%. For transmission by injection, it reduces the chance of transmission by 70%.
Since the approval of PrEP by the FDA in 2012, 79,000 people have used PrEP to protect themselves from transmission of HIV.
Who should take PrEP?
If you are at risk of contracting HIV PrEP may be one way for you to prevent HIV, and PrEP isn’t only for gay/bisexual men. PrEP can be used by both straight men and women as well. If you sporadically or never use condoms, or if you are in a relationship with someone who is HIV-positive, or if you inject drugs, PrEP may be an option for you to help prevent an HIV infection.
Are there side effects?
There are mild early side effects including nausea, headache, and loss of appetite, though these usually subside within a month.
Will PrEP react with my birth control?
No, studies have shown that PrEP does not interact with birth control. You can also continue to take PrEP while on your period without any additional side effects.
How can I afford PrEP?
Private health insurance does cover PrEP, but without insurance PrEP will cost $13,000 out of pocket, but if affording PrEP may be a problem there are programs to help like Gilead’s Advancing Access program to help those who may have trouble paying for the medication. Whether on private insurance with co-pay support, government insurance support, or even uninsured support for those without insurance. Since the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) is meant to assist people living with HIV, PrEP users without HIV are not eligible for its assistance.
Where can I get PrEP?
For those in urban areas, check the HIV advocacy website projectinform.org, where there is a map of all PrEP providers in the United States, or this PrEP Provider Directory: .
Today there is a stigma around using PrEP, much like the stigma around HIV itself. The phase “Truvada whore” is sometimes thrown around, and doctors will say they don’t want to prescribe PrEP to a person at risk for HIV because then that person might not use a condom. But as Dr. Melanie Thompson points out, “no doctor would refuse to prescribe cholesterol-lowering statins to patients because they’re overweight” (NPR). And this stigma follows at-risk individuals even though all they want to do is take charge of their health. And just like many women who are not sexually active take the birth control pill, many men and women can take PrEP even though they are not “sleeping around.” These stigmas do nothing but bolster HIV’s strength as people who should be taking PrEP aren’t because of slut-shaming.
Women and PrEP
Women accounted for roughly 20% of new HIV diagnoses in 2014. 87% of those were attributed to heterosexual sex.
One in four people living with HIV is a woman.
Only 18,000 of the 79,000 users of PrEP are women even though almost half of those who started PrEP in 2012 were women (2740 out of 6210).
PrEP by Gender:
As you can see, even though there was an almost even number of men and women who began PrEP in 2012 after it was approved by the FDA, now men account for more than 75% of PrEP users.
PrEP by Race:
Even though African Americans represent only 12% of the population, they account for 45% of HIV diagnoses, but they only account for 10% of PrEP users. Hispanics account for 18% of the population, and 24% of HIV diagnoses, yet only 12% of PrEP users. PrEP usage does not reflect the distribution of the HIV epidemic!
All graphics by Jaclyn Saik