Preventing HIV Infection with PrEP​

By Elaine Hegwood Bowen, M.S.J. ACCESS Media Relations Specialist
June 27, 2018

What is PrEP?

Pre-exposure prophylaxis, also known as PrEP, is a medication used to prevent HIV infection among individuals at high risk for the HIV virus.

Who is PrEP for?

PrEP is for people who are HIV-negative, but are at very high risk of contracting the disease from sex or injection drug use. According to federal guidelines, PrEP should be considered for those in an ongoing sexual relationship with an HIV-positive partner, as well as anyone who is not in a mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who recently tested HIV-negative, and is a:

  • Gay or bisexual man who has had anal sex without using a condom or been diagnosed with an STD in the past six months.
  • Heterosexual man or woman who does not regularly use condoms during sex with partners of unknown HIV status who are at substantial risk of HIV infection (for example, people who inject drugs or women who have bisexual male partners).

How does PrEP prevent HIV infection?

In order to prevent HIV infection using PrEP, the pill must be taken daily. PrEP contains two medications that work in conjunction to prevent the virus from taking hold in your body when exposure to HIV occurs.

How effective is PrEP?

When taken as directed, PrEP can reduce the risk of HIV infection by more than 90 percent. Consistency is key when taking PrEP to prevent HIV, as it is much less effective if not taken regularly.

If you're interested in taking PrEP to prevent HIV infection, you must commit to taking the medication every day and seeing your ACCESS care provider for follow-up every three months.

Does PrEP cure HIV/AIDS?

No, it does not cure HIV/AIDS. However, use of PrEP in HIV prevention is considered to be one of the most significant milestones in the battle against HIV/AIDS. It is important to remember that PrEP is most effective when combined with other forms of protection against HIV, such as using condoms and avoiding needles for drug use. 

Where can I get more information about PrEp?

For more information on PrEP and other HIV services that ACCESS provides, call either 312.526.2124 or 312.526.2132 for more information​.