Ways in Which PrEP Prevents HIV Infection

By Elaine Hegwood Bowen, M.S.J., ACCESS Media Relations Specialist
July 12, 2016

PrEP, which stands for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, is a medication benefitting those who are at very high risk of contracting HIV. Studies have shown that PrEP is highly effective when taken as prescribed and can significantly reduce your risk of HIV infection if taken daily. 

How PrEP Works

PrEP works by preventing an HIV-negative person from getting HIV from a sexual or injection-drug-using partner who's positive. If taken daily, PrEP can lower the risk of getting HIV from sex by more than 90 percent and from injection drug use by more than 70 percent. You can combine additional strategies, such as condom use, with PrEP to reduce the risk even further.

It's significant to note that PrEP does not work like a vaccine. A vaccine teaches your body to fight off infection for several years. PrEP works by helping to block HIV infection and, when present in your bloodstream, can often stop HIV from taking hold and spreading. 

It's critical that the medication is taken daily, because there needs to be enough PrEP in your bloodstream to block the virus. 

Who is PrEP For?

If you're in an ongoing sexual relationship with an HIV-positive partner but you yourself are HIV-negative, PrEP should be considered. 

It's also recommended for the following:

  • Those who aren't in a mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who recently tested HIV-negative, and
  • You are:
    • Gay or bisexual man who has had anal sex without using a condom or been diagnosed with an STD in the past 6 months, or

    • 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, or

    • Injecting or have injected drugs in the past 6 months and have shared needles or works (drug paraphernalia) or have been in drug treatment in the past 6 months.​

"PrEP isn't just for those with high-risk behaviors, it's for their protection against their partner's behavior," said "Anne," an ACCESS patient, a heterosexual married female.

Because P
rEP involves daily medication and regular visits to a health care provider, it may not be right for everyone. 

Where can I get more information about PrEP?

Learn more about PrEP and other HIV services that ACCESS provides here, or call 312.526.2124.

Source: http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/basics/prep.html