It’s a medicine that can protect you from getting HIV. You need to take it before having sex for it to work. It’s easily confused with PEP which is Post-Exposure Prophylaxis – a 4-week course of HIV medicine, taken as an emergency after you think you might have been exposed to HIV.
Studies show that if PrEP is taken correctly, the chances of getting HIV while you’re on it are almost zero. It’s a really powerful tool for helping prevent new HIV infections. It can’t protect you against other sexually transmitted infections like gonorrhoea and syphilis.
At the moment the most common form of PrEP is a tablet that contains two medicines: tenofovir disproxil and emtricitabine. It’s sometimes called Truvada, which is the trade name given by the company who first made the medicines in PrEP. Truvada is no longer under patent which means that other companies can make the same medication under different brand names.
Recently a new medicine (Descovy – containing tenofovir alafenamide and emtricitabine) was approved for PrEP in the USA for men and trans-women. Other HIV medicines may become available for PrEP in the future.