PrEP stands for pre-exposure prophylaxis. It is an oral HIV
medication. It is used to reduce chances of getting infected by
When HIV enters the body it attacks healthy
immune cells. The HIV virus breaks up the immune cells and
infects the body. PrEP stops the HIV virus from replicating within
immune cells and spreading, thus preventing an infection.
PrEP has been shown to be highly effective in reducing the risk of
getting HIV when taken daily. If PrEP is taken correctly, studies
have shown that PrEP reduces the risk of HIV infection from sex by
over 90%. PrEP has been shown to reduce the risk of HIV infection
from injecting drugs by over 70%. Its efficacy reduces when taken
PrEP, like other drugs, may have side effects which are usually
mild and temporary. Side effects can include:
Diarrhea, nausea or headache:
These symptoms usually go away in a few weeks. Sometimes, they can
be avoided by taking the pill with food or at bedtime.
Less common side effects, which are reversible, include:
Reduced Kidney function:
It is important that kidney function is monitored at follow-up
visits with your provider.
Reduced Bone density:
In very rare cases, PrEP may reduce bone mineral density (bone
The symptoms return to normal when PrEP is stopped.
If you are feeling any side effects, please consult your doctor
The usage mantra for PrEP is ‘One pill. Once a day.’ Remember,
PrEP should be taken under supervision of a medical practitioner.
Don’t try to buy it over the counter or share the medicine with
your friend or your partner.
There are various combinations of drugs available for PrEP. Please
consult your doctor. A qualified doctor will recommend an
appropriate dosage for you.
Talk to your doctor before stopping or restarting PrEP. You should
continue taking PrEP as long as you are still at risk of HIV.
Also, you shouldn’t stop taking PrEP immediately if you think you
are not at risk of HIV anymore. PrEP should be continued for 28
days after an exposure to HIV.
PrEP is not recommended in case a person is:
Not at Risk of HIV
Renal function altered
Again, it is best that your eligibility for PrEP is discussed with
an experienced medical doctor.
PrEP is only effective for HIV prevention. PrEP can’t provide
protection against STI/STDs such as Syphilis, Gonorrhea, Hepatitis
B, Hepatitis C, or Chlamydia. The best way to protect against STIs
is to use condoms regularly.
Yes. It is strongly advised that you use condoms along with PrEP
as additional protection against HIV and STIs, unless you are
trying to get pregnant.
Yes! PrEP provides protection from HIV only when the tablet is
taken every day. This leaves some risk of contracting HIV, so it
is important to get an HIV test every 3 months when on PrEP. If
you become HIV positive while on PrEP, you should start taking
treatment for HIV as soon as possible with help from your doctor.
No. PrEP is ineffective on HIV positive cases. If a PrEP user is
diagnosed positive, treatment for HIV (ART therapy) should be
Yes, you can.
PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) is taken daily by HIV negative
people to prevent acquiring HIV. PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis)
is for people who may have been exposed to HIV to stop getting
infected. PEP is for emergency situations and must be taken within
3 days of a possible HIV exposure.
PrEP should be taken only under the supervision of a qualified
doctor. Your doctor will decide if you are eligible for PrEP and
issue you a prescription.
Once you have a valid prescription for PrEP from a qualified
medical practitioner, you are eligible to buy PrEP from a
pharmacy. You can also buy PrEP online. Register for PrEP
PrEP should be taken by those who are HIV negative and are at risk
of getting HIV. You may be at risk for HIV and can consider taking
You have had vaginal or anal sex in the past 6 months and:
You have multiple sexual partners and don’t always use
You have a sexual partner living with HIV (with an unknown
or detectable viral load)
You have been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted
infection in the past 6 months
You have taken post exposure prophylaxis (PEP) in the past
You are considering getting pregnant with an HIV positive
You are a person who injects drugs and:
You have an injection partner living with HIV
You share needles, syringes, or other equipment to inject
The best way to know your eligibility for PrEP is to consult a
doctor. You can also read the FAQ “How do I know if I am at risk
for HIV” above. Your doctor will help you complete the required
tests to see if you can start PrEP. If you are HIV positive, you
are not eligible for PrEP.
You can buy PrEP from a pharmacy once you have a prescription.
PrEP is not an Over the Counter (OTC) drug. You can also order it
online – if you have a prescription,
Click to order.
PrEP should be taken consistently as prescribed from your doctor
You should continue to take PrEP if you continue to be at risk of
HIV. If your risk of HIV changes, you should consult your doctor
to talk about stopping PrEP.
No. PrEP is not a one-time pill. It takes about 7 days of taking
PrEP daily before there is enough medication in your body to
provide protection for anal sex. It takes 21 days of taking PrEP
daily to provide protection for vaginal sex and injection drug
use. Also, PrEP should be continued for 28 days after an exposure.
Consult your doctor before stopping PrEP.
You need to take PrEP atleast 7 days (anal sex) before the
exposure and 21 days (vaginal sex) before the exposure to have
maximum protection against HIV. You need to continue to take PrEP
for atleast 28 days after the exposure You can stop PrEP only
after consulting your doctor or counsellor
If a dose is missed, PrEP should be taken whenever you remember.
If two doses are taken by mistake, that is okay, only take one
pill the next time.
No. PrEP is ineffective for people living with HIV. If a PrEP user
is diagnosed positive, treatment for HIV should be started
PrEP is safe to take during pregnancy as well as for women who are
breastfeeding. PrEP can be started or continued during pregnancy
Yes, it is safe to combine contraceptives and PrEP.
Yes. It is safe to be on PrEP if you are taking gender affirming
Yes, you can safely combine PrEP and anti-depressant medication.