HIV Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) information for the public

You can learn what PrEP is and how it works, and how it can help prevent HIV infection.

What is PrEP?

PrEP, short for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, is a medicine people can take to prevent HIV. When taken as prescribed, PrEP is highly effective at preventing HIV.

When combined with other medicines, PrEP can be used as treatment for people who are HIV-positive.

It is important to note that PrEP cannot prevent STDs or pregnancy. This is why PrEP is often used along with condoms or other prevention tools.

Who uses PrEP?

HIV-negative people who are at high risk of getting HIV use PrEP. It is an especially helpful tool for people who may be at high risk of HIV, including:

  • Men who have sex with other men
  • Transgender women who have sex with men
  • People who are in an ongoing sexual relationship with someone who is HIV-positive
  • People who inject drugs and share injection equipment

Is PrEP right for me?

PrEP is an easy and effective way to prevent HIV. Only you can decide if PrEP is a good addition to whatever you are already doing to take care of your sexual health. Consider PrEP if you are:

  • Having trouble taking steps to lower the chances of getting HIV when having sex
  • Doing a lot to lower the chances of getting HIV, but want to do even more

How do I get PrEP?

The first step to getting PrEP is talking to a nurse or doctor. They will:

  • Talk with you about your risks and a variety of ways to prevent HIV, including taking PrEP
  • Tell you what to expect when taking PrEP
  • Order laboratory tests for HIV, STDs, and a few other things to make sure it is safe to start PrEP

If you are HIV-negative and decide to take PrEP, you will need to:

  • Get a prescription
  • Take your medication as prescribed
  • Go back for tests every 3-6 months

PrEP is usually covered by health insurance. There are programs to help with the cost of the medicine and the cost of deductibles or co-pays. For more information about paying for PrEP, or for help enrolling in health insurance coverage, contact the PrEP Drug Assistance Program (PrEPDAP) at 617-502-1737 or go to  Your PrEP Navigator can help you apply. You can find PrEP Navigator Programs below. 

Where can I access PrEP?

See our map of MDPH supported PrEP programs.

    What are some ways I can prevent HIV?

    PrEP is one way to prevent HIV. Whether or not you take PrEP, here are a few other ways to reduce the chances of getting HIV:

    • Get tested every 3-6 months for HIV/STDs and talk with your sex partners about their HIV/STD status
    • If your sex partners are HIV-positive, have sex when they have an undetectable viral load
    • Have lower-risk sex (oral, mutual masturbation, etc.) instead of, or more often than, anal or vaginal sex
    • Limit your number of sex partners
    • Use condoms for anal or vaginal sex

    Where can I get more information?