Prevention = PrEP
Call (617) 533-2319 to talk with a PrEP Navigator
PrEP are prescription medications for people who do not have HIV and want added protection. “PrEP” stands for pre-exposure prophylaxis. When taken as prescribed, it is highly effective in preventing HIV.
Our PrEP Navigators are here to support you with free and confidential services to help you:
- Learn about PrEP and how to get a prescription.
- Talk with your provider about PrEP or connect to medical care to get a prescription.
- Apply for health insurance and programs to help pay for PrEP.
- Find a pharmacy and get answers to questions about taking PrEP.
- Get reminders for follow-up labs and prescription refills.
Harbor Health’s PrEP Navigation program offers a safe and supportive way to help you get and stay on PrEP. Our services are free and confidential and open to everyone in the community.
- You can talk with a PrEP Navigator over the phone by calling (617) 533-2319.
- Come to our THRIVE Clinic to connect with a PrEP Navigator. Click here to learn more about the THRIVE Clinic.
- Download our PrEP Navigator card (PDF)
Are You PrEPared? Learn more about PrEP!
Many people have questions about PrEP. It’s OK to have questions! Just make sure to get good answers from qualified sources and professionals.
What Is PrEP?
PrEP stands for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis. The word “Prophylaxis” means to prevent or control the spread of an infection or disease.
According to the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), daily PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV from sex by more than 90 percent. Among people who inject drugs, PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV by more than 70 percent when used consistently.
While PrEP is highly effective in preventing HIV, it does not protect against other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Only condoms protect against other STIs like syphilis and gonorrhea.
Taking PrEP is one way to prevent HIV. Getting tested for HIV, using condoms, and never sharing drug injection equipment are also steps to take to reduce your chance of getting HIV.
Click here to learn more about HIV prevention
Why Should I Take PrEP Medication?
PrEP medications help HIV-vulnerable people take control of their health and reduce their risk. PrEP can be for any sexually active HIV-negative person, including adults and adolescents, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
If you are vulnerable to HIV exposure through sex or injection drug use, ask a health care professional if PrEP is right for you.
You might consider PrEP if you:
- Do not always use condoms (external or internal) when you have anal or vaginal sex. “Always” means every time, not most or some of the time.
- Do not always ask your partner(s) to wear a condom.
- Have been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection in the last six months.
- Are not sure about the HIV status of your sexual partners.
- In a relationship with an HIV-positive partner who may or may not be on HIV treatment.
- A person who injects drugs or are in a sexual relationship with a person who injects drugs.
- Are HIV-negative and interested in PrEP.
PrEP medications only protect against HIV, so condoms are still important to prevent other sexually transmitted infections. Click here to learn about free safer sex supplies at Harbor’s THRIVE clinic.
How Quickly Does It Work?
You must take PrEP for some time before exposure to HIV in order for it to be effective. According to the CDC, PrEP reaches maximum protection from HIV through receptive anal sex after about 7 days of daily use. For receptive vaginal sex and injection drug use, the CDC estimates that PrEP reaches maximum protection after about 20 days of daily use. To maintain maximum effectiveness, PrEP should be taken every day as prescribed.
How Can I Start on PrEP?
Talk to a healthcare professional if you think PrEP may be right for you. PrEP can be prescribed only by a healthcare provider.
There are some steps everyone needs to take in order to get a PrEP prescription and refills:
- Before beginning PrEP, you must take an HIV test to make sure you do not have HIV. There are also some other lab tests you will need to have.
- While taking PrEP, you will need to visit your healthcare provider every 3 months for
- follow-up visits
- HIV tests and other labs
- prescription refills
You should ask your provider about virtual care visits by video or phone and at-home lab options for follow up visits. Our PrEP Navigators can help you with follow-up appointments and lab
Is PrEP Right For Me?
PrEP is for people who do not have HIV and vulnerable to getting it. A healthcare professional can help you decide if PrEP is a good fit for you.
PrEP can be prescribed for gay and bisexual men, for heterosexual men and women, for transgender individuals, and for genderqueer or nonbinary people. PrEP can also help people who inject drugs stay HIV-negative.
ADD LINK TO RISK ASSESSMENT [Click here to learn more about your risk for HIV]
Can I take PrEP during pregnancy or while breastfeeding?
If you have a partner with HIV and are considering getting pregnant, talk to your healthcare provide about PrEP. If you are not already taking PrEP, it 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 Does PrEP Work?
To get HIV, the virus must infect immune cells, replicate itself within these cells, and spread throughout the body. When taken as prescribed, PrEP will interfere with this process.
Does PrEP Interact with Other Medications?
Ask a healthcare professional about taking PrEP with other medications. Our PrEP Navigators can also connect you to a pharmacist to answer questions you have.
How Much Does PrEP Cost?
PrEP is covered by most insurance plans and should be covered by Medicaid and Medicare. If you do not have insurance, or if you have insurance but need help with out-of-pocket costs, there are many financial assistance programs that may be able to help. For example the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services offers Ready, Set, PrEP. This program provided PrEP medications for free to people who qualify.
Our PrEP Navigators can help you apply for health insurance and other programs such as Ready, Set, PrEP that cover prescription costs.
Have More Questions About PrEP?
If you have more questions about PrEP, please call Harbor Health’s PrEP Navigation program at (617) 533-2319.
You can also watch the videos below to hear from people who take PrEP.