What is PrEP and PEP?

Maybe you’ve seen a commercial for PrEP. Maybe you’ve never heard of it at all. No matter what, TeenSource is here to give you a little more info.

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 essential role in scanning the body to detect 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 medications we have available today HIV is treatable and if someone is consistently on HIV medication & seeing their doctor most won’t develop AIDS.

How is HIV spread?

HIV can be spread from one person to another through activities involving blood, semen, vaginal fluids, pre ejaculate (pre cum), and breastmilk. Some common ways that HIV is passed from one person to another is through unprotected vaginal and/or anal sex or sharing needles to inject drugs or medicine. HIV can also be passed through unprotected oral sex, but it is rare. Just like all other STDs, one person has to have it in order to pass it on to another.

How can I keep from getting HIV?

Abstinence (not having sex) is the best way to protect against HIV. If you choose to have sex,  condoms, whether internal/female or external/male, are great at preventing HIV and other STDs! Using a condom correctly, making sure it’s not expired, and adding lubrication on the outside of the condom helps prevent condom breakage or tearing of the skin during sex and can increase pleasure. You can find free condoms near you!

Abstinence, regular testing, HIV treatment, and using medications like PrEP and PEP are all important tools in preventing HIV.

What is PrEP?

PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) is a daily pill that someone who is HIV negative can take to stay HIV negative. Taking PrEP can lower the chance of getting HIV by 90% and can be a great option if someone has a partner who is HIV positive or has multiple or anonymous partners.

What is PEP?

PEP (Post-Exposure Prophylaxis) is different from PrEP because it is a set of pills someone can take after a possible exposure 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 fails.

How can I get PrEP/PEP?

To find a provider who offers PrEP near you search https://pleaseprepme.org/.  Some of these providers in California offer no or low cost PrEP to youth.

With protection like condoms, regular testing, and PrEP/PEP, there are many ways to prevent HIV!