What is PrEP?

“PrEP” stands for pre-exposure prophylaxis. PrEP is a daily medicine, sold under the name Truvada ® , that can reduce your chance of getting HIV. PrEP is highly effective in preventing HIV if it’s taken as prescribed. It’s one pill, once a day to prevent HIV.

Why take PrEP?

The HIV epidemic in the United States is growing. The Centers of Disease Control (CDC) estimates 50,000 people get infected with HIV each year.

Should I consider taking PrEP?

PrEP is not for everyone. PrEP might be a good option for you if you:

  • Have a HIV positive partner.
  • Share needles or equipment.
  • Don’t always use a condom for every sexual act.
  • Don’t always use a condom for sex with people who inject drugs.
  • Recently had a sexually transmitted infection (STI).
  • Have multiple partners, a partner with multiple partners, or a partner whose HIV status is unknown.

How well does PrEP work?

When taken every day, PrEP has been shown to reduce the risk of HIV infection in people who are at high risk by more than 90%.  PrEP can be even more effective if it is combined with condom use and other prevention methods.  PrEP was tested in several large studies with men who have sex with men, men who have sex with women, women who have sex with men and people who inject drugs. Information on the details of these studies can be found here.

Is PrEP safe?

PrEP can cause early side effects in some people like nausea, but these were mild and usually went away within the first month.  No serious side effects were observed. If you are on PrEP, you should tell your healthcare provider if these or other symptoms become severe or do not go away.

Where can I get PrEP?

PrEP can only be prescribed by a healthcare provider. If you think you may be at high risk for HIV, talk to your healthcare provider about whether PrEP is right for you.

Who do I contact about PrEP?

The Cecil County Health Department offers PrEP Monday through Thursday from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM. Call (410) 996-5100 for more information.