What is PrEP?

“PrEP” stands for pre-exposure prophylaxis, and it is a once-daily prescription medication that a person who tests negative for HIV can take to prevent getting HIV through sex or drug use. PrEP is not a vaccine. Rather, it is a pill that you take daily.

Right now, there are two drugs approved in the US and prescribed as PrEP:

  • Truvada: Approved for use by all adults
  • Descovy: Approved for use only by men who have sex with men and transgender women who have sex with men


Is PrEP right for me?

Only a medical provider can help you decide if PrEP is right for you. You may want to consider PrEP if you are HIV-negative and at an increased risk for contracting HIV. Things which place you at a higher risk include being in a relationship with a person living with HIV, not consistently using a condom during sex, and sharing injection drugs or hormone replacement equipment.

Do you think PrEP might be right for you? If so, give us a call at 337.704.0787.


How effective is PrEP?

PrEP has been tested in a number of studies involving sexual behaviors as well as drug use. It has proven to be about 99% effective at preventing HIV infection through sex and at least 74% effective for people who use injection drugs.¹

If you think you are at risk of contracting HIV, you should talk to your doctor about PrEP. It is also covered by most insurance plans, so this incredible form of protection can come at little to no cost to you.


Are there side effects when taking PrEP?

PrEP is safe to take for most people.


Some people have been taking it to protect themselves from HIV more than five years, and researchers haven’t reported any significant long-term health effects. Truvada has also been reliably used in HIV treatment since 2004, and most people who have taken it for years have experienced no serious problems.

That said, like with just about any drug in existence, PrEP can potentially cause side effects in some people. In one of the major research studies comparing Truvada to Descovy for PrEP, about one in four people who started taking either drug felt a side effect during their first few weeks of taking it.

These are the most common side effects—all of which are usually mild and typically go away within one to three months:

  • headache
  • diarrhea
  • gas (which can cause stomach pain and farting)
  • nausea
  • joint pain

In addition, Truvada and Descovy each have their own specific potential side effects—although, again, most people don’t experience any side effects at all:

  • Truvada can cause slight changes in bone density and kidney function, although these are not serious in most people. (They’re generally only a potential concern for people who already have bone or kidney problems; in a major study, only 2% of people on Truvada for PrEP needed to stop the drug due to side effects.)
  • Descovy is less likely than Truvada to cause bone and kidney problems, but it may cause some people to gain a small amount of weight (typically 2 or 3 pounds) or see slightly increased cholesterol numbers compared to people taking Truvada.

Anyone who takes PrEP will need to visit their doctor for regular check-ins, to make sure they are still HIV negative and to make sure they are treated quickly for any issues that may crop up.


How do I start taking PrEP?

The first step is talking to your medical provider. The medical providers at our Health Clinic are happy to speak with you about your options. If you and your medical provider decide that PrEP is right for you, they will run some blood tests to check your HIV status and your overall physical health. If all is well, you will receive a prescription that must be taken every day. A PrEP regimen requires that you follow up with your medical provider regularly. They will provide counseling about safer sex, administer regular tests for HIV infection and physical health, and discuss the best method of taking your medicine so that it works well for you. If you have trouble remembering to take your pill daily, speak to your medical provider.


Where can I read more about PrEP?

Find more information about PrEP and HIV prevention at The Body’s HIV Prevention Resource Center:

Do you think PrEP might be right for you? If so, give us a call at 337.704.0787.



We are unable to respond to emergency needs. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911 immediately.

* The clinic at the Community Health and Wellness Center earned Federally Qualified Health Center Look-Alike (FQHC LAL) designation on 8/1/2019.





809 MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. DRIVE • LAFAYETTE, LA 70501 • P: 337.233.2437