Pre-exposure Prophylaxis - Los Angeles LGBT Center

Pre-exposure Prophylaxis

Frequently Asked Questions About Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (and responses to myths)

  • What is Pre-exposure Prophylaxis?
    Pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, is a way to prevent HIV infection by taking the pill Truvada every day. When combined with condoms and other prevention methods, PrEP has been shown to reduce the risk of HIV infection in people who are at high risk by up to 92%.

  • How often do I need to take PrEP for it to be effective?
    The CDC recommends taking Truvada every day. If you don't, there may not be enough medicine in your bloodstream to block the virus. People taking PrEP should also see their health care provider every 3 months for regular monitoring of their HIV status and potential side effects of the medicine.

  • How can I decide if PrEP is right for me?
    Each person must balance the potential side effects of taking a daily medication against the risk of getting HIV. For some people, especially those at very low risk of acquiring HIV, PrEP may not be the right choice.

  • Who is considered at substantial risk for HIV infection?
    We consider someone who does not regularly use condoms while engaging in sexual intercourse to be at substantial risk of HIV infection. Having a sexually transmitted disease (like gonorrhea, syphilis, etc.), or having sex with people who’ve recently had a sexually transmitted disease, puts you at even greater risk.

  • What are the side-effects of PrEP?
    Truvada is generally well tolerated, with few side effects. Read more here.

  • How can I access PrEP?
    Speak with your medical provider to discuss your situation and interest in PrEP. We encourage you to be as honest as possible so he or she can help you make the best decision.

    If you do not have a provider, or if your medical provider does not feel comfortable helping you make this decision and prescribing PrEP, you're welcome to get your medical care from the Los Angeles LGBT Center. You can begin the process of enrolling by calling 323-993-7500 option 4. Be sure to let them know you are calling about PrEP so they can help you accordingly.

    PrEP can cost as much as $1300/month, but fortunately it is now covered by many insurance plans, HMOs and Medi-Cal.

  • I think I’ve been exposed to HIV. Can I start PrEP right away to prevent infection?
    No. If you haven’t been on PrEP and you have a high-risk sexual experience, there is a better option called post-exposure prophylaxis, or PEP. It must begin as soon as possible, within 72 hours of exposure at the latest. Learn more about it and how the Center can help you access it here.

  • Where can I get more information?
    men.prepfacts.org – a very informative website with an excellent discussion of PrEP
    PrEP information sheet: www.cdc.gov/hiv/pdf/PrEP_GL_Patient_Factsheet_PrEP_English.pdf

MYTHS ABOUT PrEP

  • Thanks to PrEP, I don’t need to use condoms anymore.
    No prevention strategy is 100% effective. In the largest clinical trial of PrEP, participants were encouraged to continue using condoms. There isn't enough research for us to know how effective PrEP may be for those who don't use condoms.

    It's also important to note that while PrEP can prevent HIV infection, it does not protect people from other sexually transmitted diseases like syphilis, gonorrhea, etc. Condoms remain the best source of protection against those infections.

  • I can get protection from PrEP if I take a Truvada pill shortly before sex, right?
    Wrong.
    You need enough medicine in your bloodstream to block the virus and popping a pill right before, or even a few days before, won’t be enough to protect you. The CDC recommends you take PrEP every day and at least 21 days before sex.
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