This leaflet is about PrEP.
PrEP protects you from HIV even if you don’t use a condom.
What is PrEP?
PrEP is ARV medicine that can be taken by HIV-negative people before exposure to HIV to prevent infection.
PrEP is an HIV prevention option and, where possible, should be used in combination with other interventions such as condoms.
- PrEP does not protect against other STIs or prevent pregnancy.
- PrEP is a single pill that contains two drugs:
- tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (tenofovir, TDF)
- emtricitabine (FTC)
PrEP is taken as a daily pill and can reduce someone’s chance of getting HIV by up to 96% — if taken daily
PrEP = pre-exposure prophylaxis
Pre means “before” – ie taking meds before you have sex (and also afterwards).
Exposure means a chance or situation where your body is exposed to the risk of catching HIV.
Prophylaxis means a way of preventing an infection.
Who can use PrEP?
PrEP is recommended for people who self-identify as at risk of HIV and serodiscordant couples (couples in an ongoing sexual relationship in which one partner is living with HIV and the other is HIV negative)
Adult PrEP works whatever your age, gender or sexuality.
You should consider taking PrEP:
- If you do not always use condoms.
- If you had an STI in the last year.
- If you ever use PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis).
- If you use some recreational drugs – especially if you are a person who injects drugs
- If worrying about HIV stops you having a good sex life.
- If your partner is living with HIV and not on treatment. (An undetectable viral load has no risk of HIV transmission).
Where can you get PrEP?
PrEP is now available free at over 2000 hospitals and clinics across South Africa and more facilities will be added. Please check at your nearest health facility.
You can also get PrEP over the counter from a pharmacy. You can go to the pharmacy and request it over the counter provided you have a doctor’s prescription. Your GP would first have to test you for HIV and make sure you are HIV negative.
How is PrEP prescribed?
The recommended regimen is TDF/FTC 1 tablet by mouth daily. The drugs can be taken anytime of the day, with or without food, and can be stored at room temperature.
- At start – 1-month supply
- At 1-month visit – repeat HIV test and 3-month prescription (for collection every month)
- Every 3 months – repeat HIV test and 3-month prescription (for collection every month)
When starting PrEP, you need 7 days of daily dosing to reach high tissue levels of PrEP. During this period, you should use other protective precautions, such as condoms.
When stopping PrEP, the health care provider will check for your last potential HIV exposure. PrEP should be continued for 28 days after the last potential HIV exposure.
Tips: remembering to take PrEP
Pick the best time to take PrEP and get into a routine.
Keep an adherence diary – mark off each day.
Use a pill box to know if you have taken or missed your PrEP.
Set a repeat alarm on your phone or use an App.
Side effects and drug resistance
PrEP is safe. Most people have no side effects.
Some people may report minor side effects in the first month of PrEP use, such as diarrhoea, headache, abdominal pain and nausea. These are usually mild and stop within the first few weeks.
Major side effects associated with PrEP are very rare.
Routine monitoring checks for more serious reactions that are rare.
- Reduce your risk of HIV infection, by 90% if taken daily and correctly
PrEP Does not:
- Prevent other STIs
- Prevent pregnancy
- Protect you from HIV after exposure, PrEP reduces your risk before exposure
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