What is PrEP?
Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is a way to prevent HIV and is up to 99% effective when medications are taken correctly. With PrEP, people who are HIV-negative take a medication (Truvada) once a day to reduce the risk of getting infected if they’re exposed to HIV. PrEP is an additional method that can be used with other HIV prevention strategies such as condoms. There are several reasons that PrEP is not more widely used. Despite the success of marketing PrEP to gay men, there has been little to no effort to inform the general public about PrEP. This has led to a huge disparity of awareness, access, and usage among different populations, especially people of color, women, transgender individuals, people who inject drugs, and men who have sex with men who are not integrated into the gay community. Even if people have heard about PrEP, there are several other potential barriers such as cost, access to medical care, insurance coverage, lack of PrEP knowledge by general medical providers, perceived stigma, and more. At Face to Face, we see the expanded use of PrEP as the highest priority in preventing new infections. This is in alignment with the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, and the State of California’s Getting to Zero Plan. Our is to provide information and access to PrEP to all people in Sonoma County at risk for HIV.
What’s the science behind PrEP?
PrEP clinical trials have been conducted, or are currently being conducted, all over the world. Research has very clearly demonstrated that PrEP offers high levels of protection against HIV infection if taken regularly. But, if you don’t take it consistently, PrEP can’t protect you from HIV. PrEP does not prevent the spread of sexually transmitted infections.
Who is PrEP for?
PrEP is for people who don’t have HIV, and are at higher risk for getting HIV.
- Often have condomless vaginal or anal sex.
- Have a sexual partner who has HIV.
- Have a sexual partner who is at high risk for getting HIV (like if they have anal or vaginal sex with other people without condoms, and for people who inject drugs).
- Have anal or vaginal sex with many partners, especially if you don’t use condoms regularly.
- Recently had another STD (like chlamydia, gonorrhea, or syphilis).
- Do sex work that includes vaginal or anal sex.
- Have injected drugs, shared needles, or been in treatment for drug use in the past 6 months.
If you’re at high risk for HIV and you’re pregnant, trying to get pregnant, or breastfeeding, PrEP may also help you and your baby avoid getting HIV.
Still have questions about PrEP?
- Why do we need HIV prevention tools like PrEP?
- Aren’t condoms good enough?
- What are the side effects from PrEP?
- How do I talk to my provider about PrEP?
- How can I afford PrEP?
- Where is PrEP available now?
- What experiences are others having with PrEP?
Interested in Starting PrEP?
Visit your primary care physician to begin the conversation. PrEP is covered by most medical insurance companies, including Kaiser, Medi-Cal, and Medicare. There are payment assistance programs that will cover most to all of the remaining costs, so you can access PrEP affordably, without paying entirely out of pocket. If you are on Medical Cal, you can visit any one of the following F2F community partners directly:
- Vista Family Health Center
- West County Health Centers
- Petaluma Health Center
- Alexander Valley Health Care
- Sonoma Valley Community Health Center
Not sure what to ask? Here is a handy resource to get your conversation started. If you are not ready to speak to your healthcare provider but would like to learn more about PrEP from F2F, visit our office Tuesdays – Fridays from 9am-4:30pm for your regular HIV test and ask your test counselor for more information. We’re here to help answer questions and support you through the process.
Videos About PrEP
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Santa Rosa, CA 95404
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