#ShesWell: PrEP for Women

#ShesWell: PrEP for Women

PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) is medicine that is highly effective at preventing HIV from sex or injection drug use when used as prescribed.  PrEP is for everyone at risk for getting HIV! PrEP can stop HIV from taking hold and spreading throughout your body. It is highly effective for preventing HIV if used as prescribed, but it is much less effective when not taken consistently. And remember, PrEP protects you against HIV but not against other STDs.

There are more HIV prevention options than ever before.  Talk to your partners, friends, and health care provider about PrEP.

How effective is PrEP?

PrEP is highly effective for preventing HIV.

  • PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV from sex by about 99% when taken as prescribed.
  • Although there is less information about how effective PrEP pills are among people who inject drugs, we know that PrEP pills reduce the risk of getting HIV by at least 74% when taken as prescribed. Currently, PrEP shots are not recommended for people who inject drugs.
  • PrEP is less effective when not taken as prescribed.
How can I start PrEP?

Talk to your health care provider if you think PrEP may be right for you. PrEP can be prescribed by any health care provider who is licensed to write prescriptions. Before beginning PrEP, you must take an HIV test to make sure you don’t have HIV.

  • While taking PrEP, you’ll have to visit your health care provider routinely as recommended for
    • follow-up visits,
    • HIV tests, and
    • prescription refills or shots.
  • Ask your health care provider about mail-in HIV tests and telehealth services for follow-up visits.

If you don’t have a health care provider, you can use the HIV prevention services locator to find a PrEP provider near you.


Can I take PrEP while on birth control?

There are no known interactions between PrEP and hormone-based birth control methods, e.g., the pill, patch, ring, shot, implant, or IUD. It is safe to use both at the same time.

Can I take PrEP during pregnancy or while breastfeeding?
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If you have a partner with HIV and are considering getting pregnant, talk to your health care provider about PrEP if you’re not already taking it. PrEP may be an option to help protect you and your baby from getting HIV while you try to get pregnant, during pregnancy, or while breastfeeding.

How can I pay for PrEP?
Ready, Set, PrEP

Most insurance plans and state Medicaid programs cover PrEP. Under the Affordable Care Act, PrEP must be free under almost all health insurance plans. That means you can’t be charged for your PrEP medication or the clinic visits and lab tests you need to maintain your prescription.

If you don’t have insurance or Medicaid coverage, there are other programs that provide PrEP for free or at a reduced cost:

  • Ready, Set, PrEP makes PrEP medication available at no cost to those who qualify.
  • Co-pay assistance programs help lower the costs of PrEP medications. Income is not a factor in eligibility.
  • ViiVConnect offers a program to help pay for PrEP shots.
  • Some states have PrEP assistance programs. Some programs cover PrEP medication, while others cover clinical visits and lab tests. Some programs cover both.