Frequently Asked Questions
Is there a pill that prevents HIV?
Yes, it’s called PrEP. The drug brand names are Truvada and Descovy.
Who should take PrEP?
People who are HIV-negative and at high risk of being exposed to HIV through sexual contact or intravenous drug use.
How effective is PrEP?
Taking PrEP consistently provides up to 99% protection from getting HIV through sex and over 70% protection from shared drug needles.
Are there side effects?
Some people experience temporary side effects like nausea and dizziness, but most people do not.
How do I get PrEP?
PrEP is prescribed by health care providers.
How do I talk to my health care provider about PrEP?
Ask your health care provider about this HIV prevention strategy. If they are not familiar with PrEP, find a health care provider who is knowledgeable and comfortable discussing PrEP and your sexual health at PleasePrEPMe.org. For more information, please see the brochure Talk to Your Doctor About PrEP in English and Spanish, which has some questions to ask your health care provider.
What if I can’t afford PrEP?
Will PrEP protect me from other sexually transmitted infections (STIs)?
No. PrEP only prevents HIV.
If I’m not having sex right now, should I still take PrEP?
If you don’t expect to be having sex then you don’t need PrEP. However, sometimes sex happens and if you’re using PrEP you’ll be prepared. If you have sex when you’re off PrEP make sure to use condoms or other ways to protect yourself.
What is 2-1-1 PrEP?
2-1-1 is an alternative way to use PrEP, but it has only been proven to be effective for anal sex among men who have sex with other men. Talk to your provider to see if 2-1-1 PrEP is right for you.
Is PrEP the same as PEP?
No – PrEP and PEP work in different ways. PEP is an emergency medication for people not using PrEP. If you think you have been exposed to HIV — through a condom malfunction or shared needle, you can take PEP immediately after within 72 hours to prevent infection. If you use PrEP, you don’t need PEP.
I’m transgender. Will PrEP interfere with my hormone therapy?
There are no known drug conflicts or interactions between PrEP and hormone therapy. If you are worried that PrEP will affect your hormone therapy, ask your health care provider to check your hormone levels.
What about condoms?
If you don’t want to take PrEP, condoms provide a high level of protection when used consistently and correctly. Condoms also prevent many STIs, which is why some people choose to use both PrEP and condoms.
What does U=U stand for?
Undetectable=Untransmittable. With treatment, people living with HIV can maintain their health, become and stay undetectable, and have sex without transmitting the virus.
How does HIV become undetectable?
HIV medication suppresses the level of HIV (viral load) in your body.
If I stop taking my HIV meds, will I remain undetectable?
No, if you stop taking your meds your viral load will increase. You will not be undetectable, your immune system will get weak, and that leads to life-threatening illnesses.
If I am living with HIV, can I have unprotected sex without transmitting the virus?
Yes, but only if HIV in your body is undetectable. There have been ZERO confirmed cases of sexual transmission from an undetectable person.
Can I get other STIs if I am undetectable?
Yes. HIV meds do not stop other sexually transmitted diseases. Condoms provide protection from STIs.
Should my HIV-negative partner use PrEP or condoms?
It’s their choice, but everyone should have a plan for protecting themselves.
How can I get tested for STIs?
Please visit the STI/HIV Testing & Resources webpage for more information on STI testing at the Crane Center and to locate alternate testing sites.
How old do I need to be to get tested?
At age 12 and older, you have the right to access STI and HIV testing, treatment, and prevention services.
What does STI treatment entail?
Most STIs can be treated and cured with antibiotics. Treatment for syphilis involves 1-3 injections of antibiotics, depending on the stage at which it is diagnosed.
Can I become re-infected with the same STI?
Yes. If you test positive for an STI, it is essential that you and your partner(s) receive treatment to prevent reinfection. You will also need to avoid having sex until the infection is cured.
How does risk for STIs affect risk for HIV?
An STI infection can cause open sores in the genital region, increasing the risk of exposure. STIs cause inflammation which weakens the immune system and leads to increased risk for HIV if exposure occurs.
What are the long-term implications of STIs?
Untreated, STIs can increase the risk of transmitting or acquiring HIV, long term pelvic and/or abdominal pain, the inability to become pregnant, and/or pregnancy complications.