HIV, STD and Hepatitis Branch

HIV Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis

What is pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP)?

PrEP is an HIV prevention method for people who are HIV-negative. It involves taking a daily anti-HIV medication to reduce the risk of becoming infected with HIV. Several studies have shown that, when taken as directed, PrEP dramatically reduces the risk of becoming infected when combined with other prevention services. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently recommends PrEP for all individuals who are at high risk for HIV infection.

The pill (brand name Truvada) is a combination of two anti-HIV medications (tenofovir and emtricitabine). Truvada is commonly used to treat HIV positive individuals in combination with other anti-HIV medications. Truvada was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in July 2012 for the  prevention  of HIV-infection in HIV-negative men and women.

County New Center article: Drug Significantly Reduces Risk of Getting HIV

Is PrEP right for me?

PrEP may be right for you if you:

  • Have a partner who is HIV-positive
  • Have sex or needle-sharing partners of unknown HIV status
  • Have been diagnosed with an STD during the past 6 months
The only way to determine whether PrEP is right for you is to talk to your doctor. Visit PrEP 101 for information about talking to your doctor.

Does PrEP have side effects?

Any doctor can prescribe PrEP. The majority of people taking PrEP do not report experiencing side effects. About 1 in 10 people taking PrEP report that they had a headache, stomach pain, or weight loss when they first started taking Truvada. In most people, these side effects improved or went away after a few weeks.

In people who are HIV-negative and have taken PrEP for up to 5 years, no significant health effects have been seen.

How do I get PrEP?  

Truvada for PrEP is covered by many private insurance plans and by Medi-Cal. Talk to your doctor about whether Truvada may be right for you. 

If you do not have a doctor or health insurance, you may contact Covered California for information on signing up for insurance or Medi-Cal. 

If you need help, staff at the County of San Diego Rosecrans STD clinic can help you navigate the process of getting on PrEP using your own health insurance, or by helping you establish new health insurance coverage.

Call the PrEP navigator for more information or to schedule an appointment: (619) 692-6621.

If you are currently uninsured or have a high copay for Truvada, you may be eligible to get Truvada for PrEP through the manufacturer’s (Gilead) Patient Assistance Program .  

What other resources are there in addition to PrEP or PEP?

Last updated April 24, 2017.