What is PrEP?
PrEP (short for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) is medication that prevents HIV and promotes sexual health.
PrEP is for anyone – straight, gay, or bisexual. PrEP is for male, female, transgender, or gender non-conforming individuals.
PrEP is for people who are HIV negative (not living with HIV). Since 2014, the NYSDOH has strongly endorsed PrEP as a safe and effective evidence-based biomedical intervention for the prevention of HIV. PrEP is an important option for promoting sexual health.
There are three medications approved by the FDA as PrEP for HIV: Truvada (TDF/FTC), Descovy (TAG/FTC), and Apretude (CAB LA). A health care provider will work with you to determine which may be best for you. Truvada and Descovy are oral medications, and Apretude is an injectable medication.
Is it safe?
Yes. PrEP is very safe. Most people have few or no side effects. Some people get an upset stomach when they first start taking oral medication. For those who are on injectable PrEP (Apretude), there may be soreness or irritation at the injection site. Talk to your health care provider about any side effects, especially if they last more than a week or so.
How do I get PrEP?
PrEP is individualized to support your sexual health and HIV prevention needs. You and your provider will work together to determine the best PrEP medication and dosing schedule for you. You can talk with your healthcare provider about PrEP or you can find a provider by clicking here.
How much does PrEP cost?
Effective January 1, 2020 all issuers, except for grandfathered health plans*, must provide coverage for PrEP for the prevention of HIV infection at no cost sharing and cover screening for HIV infection at no cost-sharing. Everyone interested in PrEP, including both oral and injectable PrEP, will be able to afford it because there are many options for covering the costs. The cost of PrEP includes the cost of medication, medical appointments, and lab tests. Medicaid and most health insurance plans cover all the costs for PrEP, without co-pays or cost-sharing. Drug manufacturers offer assistance and the New York State DOH offers a PrEP Assistance Program (PrEP-AP). For information, see PrEP Payment Options (PDF).
How often do I take PrEP?
Taking PrEP once a day is the preferred method for those on oral medication. Talk with your healthcare provider about how long you need to take PrEP before you are fully protected. Daily PrEP with Truvada is the one method proven to be effective for cis-gender women and transgender men who have vaginal intercourse.
On-Demand PrEP (2-1-1)
On-demand PrEP is an option for you if you are a cisgender man who has sex with men and you can predict when you will have sex at least 2 hours beforehand. With on-demand PrEP, you take two pills at least 2-24 hours before sex. Then you take one pill once a day for two days after you have had sex. The only PrEP medication approved for on-demand use is Truvada.
Injectable PrEP is an option for those who do not want to take a pill every day. Injectable PrEP is administered by a health care provider. The initial administration will require two injections be given one month apart, and then administration will move to once every 2 months after initial establishment for lasting effectiveness. Injectable PrEP is another method proven to be effective for cis-gender women and transgender men who have vaginal intercourse. If you miss a dose of injectable PrEP by more than 7 days, please consult with a health care provider to be reassessed for a preventative plan.
If you feel you no longer need PrEP, talk with your health care provider about how to discontinue it.
Is PrEP for adolescents?
Yes. PrEP is a safe, effective and approved option for you if you are over the age of 12 and weigh 35 kg (77 pounds) or more. Your healthcare provider will determine if you are a candidate for PrEP. You can consent to the medication on your own, but billing information is something your parent or guardian may receive. PrEP is available for adolescents orally (by mouth) and as an injectable. Talk to your healthcare provider about which option is best for you.
What is the relationship between PrEP and HIV testing?
PrEP is for people who are HIV negative, so the first step is an HIV test. While you are taking PrEP, you should get tested for HIV periodically to make sure you remain HIV negative.
Does PrEP protect from STIs?
PrEP does not protect you from sexually transmitted infections (STIs) like syphilis, gonorrhea, or chlamydia. Using a condom with PrEP will protect you from most STIs. When you are taking PrEP, you should get tested periodically for STIs. Early diagnosis and treatment of STIs protects your health and prevents passing STIs to your partners. Using PrEP and condoms together gives you protection from both HIV and most STIs.
What is U=U?
U=U stands for Undetectable equals Untransmittable. It means that a person who has HIV and is on treatment and virally suppressed for 6 months or longer cannot transmit HIV to a partner through sex. To learn more: https://www.preventionaccess.org
If your partner is living with HIV and their HIV is virally suppressed (or undetectable), there is no risk of you getting HIV from sex with this partner.
FAQs for Women
For more specific information for women, click here to access additional information about PrEP for Women.
What should women know about PrEP?
PrEP is about empowerment. PrEP is under YOUR CONTROL - you don't have to tell your partner (or anyone else). Cis-gender women who have vaginal intercourse have medication options for PrEP. If you'd like to talk with a health care provider or counselor about PrEP, check out the Department of Health PrEP Provider Directory or talk with your own health care provider.
Are there special PrEP considerations for women?
As a woman, you have special health care needs such as family planning/birth control, regular breast exams and PAP smears. You can talk about PrEP with any of your health care providers. Since PrEP involves medical appointments, it may be more convenient if you get PrEP from a health care provider you already see.
What about using PrEP and being pregnant?
If you are seeking to become pregnant with someone who is living with HIV, PrEP can protect you from HIV exposure during sex when trying to become pregnant. If you are thinking about becoming pregnant, are already pregnant, or are breastfeeding, talk with your health care provider about whether PrEP is right for you.
Can I take PrEP if I offer sex in exchange for something I need?
PrEP is an option if you are someone who trades sex for something you need (housing, drugs, money).
Can I take PrEP if I experience intimate partner violence?
If you are afraid of your intimate partner, and negotiating sex may be difficult, PrEP is a way to take control of your sexual health. If you've experienced domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). All calls are free and confidential.