Maybe you’ve seen a commercial for PrEP. Maybe you’ve never heard of it at all. But we’re here to give you a little more info.
What is PrEP?
PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) is a daily pill that someone who is HIV negative can take to prevent getting the virus. Taking PrEP can lower your chance of getting HIV by 90%! PrEP can be a great option if someone has a partner who is HIV positive or has multiple or anonymous partners.
What is PEP?
Unlike PrEP which is taken before someone might be exposed to HIV, PEP (Post-Exposure Prophylaxis) is a set of pills someone can take almost immediately after they’ve been exposed to HIV to prevent infection. If someone believes they may have been exposed to HIV (ex: a condom broke or you shared needles) they could start taking PEP within 72 hours of exposure and continue to take a PEP pill every day for 28 days to prevent HIV from attaching to the T-Cells. PEP is a backup plan to be used if someone’s typical plan for preventing HIV, like using condoms or using PrEP, fails.
How can I get PrEP/PEP?
To find a provider near you who offers PrEP, search: https://pleaseprepme.org/
Some providers in California offer no or low cost PrEP to youth. You can also find free condoms near you and find a clinic to get tested or for more information about PrEP, PEP or HIV.
HIV is the STD that leads to AIDS. Don’t know much about HIV? Here are some basics:
What is HIV?
HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that effects the immune system by attaching to the T-Cells. T-Cells play an important role in scanning the body for and detecting infections. If HIV goes untreated it can develop into AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) which describes the stage in HIV where the immune system becomes very weak. HIV is not curable, but with the medication, HIV is treatable. If someone is consistently on HIV medication & seeing their doctor, most won’t develop AIDS.
How is HIV passed?
HIV can be passed through activities involving blood, semen, vaginal fluids, pre ejaculate (pre cum), and breastmilk. Some common ways that HIV is passed is through unprotected vaginal & anal sex or by sharing needles to inject drugs or medicine. HIV can also be passed through unprotected oral sex, but it is rare. HIV cannot be transmitted through other bodily fluids like tears and saliva. Just like all other STDs, one person has to have HIV in order to pass it on to another.
How can I prevent HIV?
Using condoms, whether internal/female or external/male, is a great way to prevent HIV and other STDs! But you need to use a condom correctly and make sure it’s not expired! Adding lubrication on the outside of the condom helps prevent condom breakage & tearing of the skin during sex and can increase pleasure. Abstinence, regular testing, HIV treatment, and using medications like PrEP and PEP can also be important tools in preventing HIV.
How does HIV treatment prevent new cases of HIV?
With the medication available to treat HIV today, many people are reaching what is called “undetectable” HIV status. “Undetectable” means that the medication someone is taking is working so well at suppressing HIV that it doesn’t show up on most tests. People say: Undetectable = Untransmittable. If someone’s virus is “undetectable” for 6 or more months while on treatment, they will not transmit HIV to a partner. It doesn’t mean that HIV is cured, and someone could lose undetectable status if they stopped taking their medication, but knowing that HIV+ can achieve a status where they won’t pass on HIV is a huge step in preventing HIV! Being undetectable is an important reason why someone who has HIV should be sure they are taking care of themselves and their partners by taking their medication daily. And remember, a condom can always be used for protection against HIV AND other STDs!