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PrEP: A New Tool To Prevent HIV

What is Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP)?

PrEP stands for pre-exposure prophylaxis.
Pre = Before
Exposure = Coming into contact with HIV
Prophylaxis = Treatment to prevent an infection from happening

PrEP is a once daily pill (prescription only) taken by an HIV negative individual that reduces their risk of HIV infection. Taken correctly, the PrEP medication, called Truvada, is very effective at preventing HIV.

PrEP has been shown to reduce the risk of HIV infection through sex and among people who share needles to inject drugs. PrEP does not protect against other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) or pregnancy, so using effective birth control methods and condoms are still important for the sexual health of individuals taking PrEP to reduce HIV risk.

PrEP is not a cure for HIV.

PrEP is different from Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP). PEP is a month-long course of medications that an HIV negative individual takes after coming into contact with HIV to reduce their risk of becoming infected. Contra Costa County Department of Public Health recommends PEP be started within 36 hours after possible exposure to HIV. Exposures beyond 36 hours may warrant PEP on a case-by-case basis. If you think you have come into contact with HIV and would like more information on PEP, please contact your primary care provider or ask about PEP at your local emergency room.

Is PrEP for you?

PrEP may be a good choice for you if:

  • You are HIV negative
  • You are ready to take a pill every day
  • You may be exposed to HIV through sex or injecting drugs
  • Your sexual partner uses injection drugs
  • You have a sexual partner who is HIV positive or you don’t know if they have HIV
  • You don’t use condoms every time you have sex
  • You have anonymous sex with multiple partners
  • You have had an STD like syphilis, chlamydia, or gonorrhea in the past 6 months.
    Please note: PrEP protects against HIV but does not prevent other sexually transmitted diseases. We recommend using condoms with PrEP for protection against STDs.

If you identify with one or more of the above risk factors, please talk with your medical provider about PrEP. PrEP will not cure HIV if you are already HIV positive.

How do I take PrEP?

  • Meet with a medical provider to find out if PrEP is right for you.
  • Your medical provider will test you for HIV and STDs.
  • If you are HIV-negative, you will undergo some additional lab work and may receive a prescription for Truvada, the medication used for PrEP.
  • PrEP is a single pill taken once a day, at the same time each day. You can take it with or without food. In order to benefit from this medication, taking it every day at the same time is critical.
  • After 90 days, return to your doctor to be tested again before receiving a prescription refill.
  • If you need help with with paying for PrEP, contact our PrEP Navigator using the form below.

Is PrEP safe? What are the side effects?

PrEP is safe. Truvada has been used to treat people with HIV since 2004.

Most people on PrEP do not report any side effects. For those who do, the most common side effects are nausea, upset stomach, fatigue, and headaches. These symptoms often get better or go away within the first month of taking PrEP. Rare side effects include kidney or bone problems. Your health care provider can help you manage any side effects.

Contact Us

Call our PrEP Navigator at 925-313-6771 or write your question in the box below and our PrEP Navigator will respond within 48 business hours.



The role of the PrEP Navigator is to provide basic education about PrEP and educate on the process of how to access PrEP. The PrEP Navigator cannot give medical advice.

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