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PrEPing Your Capacity

On July 12, 2012, the FDA approved Truvada as PrEP, an HIV prevention medication for individuals who are at high risk for HIV infection. Three and half years later – PrEP has taken the world of HIV prevention by storm as many community based organizations (CBOs), AIDS service organizations (ASOs), and clinicians have begun to integrate PrEP into their care delivery models. In response, Getting To Zero, the AIDS United Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)-funded capacity building initiative, has delivered several trainings and created tools to help organizations understand what PrEP is and how it can be best integrated into their HIV prevention services. Our PrEP 101 has been used to train several organizations about the basics of PrEP and barriers faced by key affected populations regarding access and adherence to PrEP. Here are some common questions about PrEP that we encounter in the field. 

What is PrEP?

PrEP stands for “pre-exposure prophylaxis” and is a medication that an HIV-negative person takes to prevent HIV infection. Currently, PrEP is available as a single pill called Truvada and must be taken once a day, every day. Truvada is actually composed of two very common antiretroviral drugs (tenofovir and emtricitabine) that people living with HIV have used for treatment for over 10 years.

Who is PrEP recommended for?

The CDC has recommended Truvada for those who are at high risk of coming into contact with HIV through sexual activity or intravenous drug use. PrEP is recommended alongside other HIV prevention methods like condoms. To see a complete list of CDC’s recommendations please visit:

Is PrEP effective?

Research has shown that when taken as prescribed, PrEP can be up to 90% effective at preventing HIV. The effectiveness of PrEP is directly linked to adherence. If someone does not adhere to the one-pill-a-day regimen, the effectiveness of PrEP decreases (although research shows that it still provides some effectiveness).

Is PrEP safe? What are the side effects?

Truvada has been shown to be safe with no serious side effects. In some patients, Truvada has been shown to mildly impact liver function. CDC recommends that those who are taking Truvada have an HIV test every two - three months to ensure they haven’t acquired HIV and routine liver function tests. Always remember, the decision to begin PrEP should be made in consultation with your health care provider.

How long do I need to take PrEP?

Truvada must always be taken once a day for it to be effective. If your risk for HIV acquisition lowers or you encounter any difficulties taking Truvada, you can safely stop taking Truvada. For more information about understanding your risk for HIV please visit CDC’s HIV Risk Reduction Tool.

How can I access PrEP?

Any doctor, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant can prescribe Truvada. Truvada is also covered by Medicaid, Medicare, and most health insurance plans. For those who are interested in assistance with paying for Truvada please visit:

These are only a few of the many questions that can arise, especially during PrEP education, between providers and consumers. In collaboration with GMHC, AIDS United developed PrEP Kit, a comprehensive PrEP resource for CBO staff. This toolkit is designed to educate CBO staff about PrEP and assist them with preparing and linking their clients to PrEP. From assessing whether or not PrEP is the right option, to talking to your medical provider about PrEP, PrEP Kit has several resources that can assist with PrEP implementation. If you are interested in Getting to Zero’s free training and technical assistance services like our PrEP 101 training, or have any questions about PrEP Kit, please feel free to reach out to our team at [email protected].

About Sarah Getachew: Sarah Getachew is a program associate who works on AIDS United’s Sector Transformation, Puerto Rico, and Getting to Zero initiatives. She helps develop and deliver Getting to Zero’s capacity building assistance trainings, including its PrEP 101 component.

About Getting to Zero: From our scores of current grantees and policy coalition members, to our extensive network of exceptional partners, including The Bridging Group, Harm Reduction Coalition, Health Equity Institute, GMHC, and Ribbon Consulting Group — AIDS United brings together the broadest possible network of experts to the fight. This, coupled with our expert Getting to Zero staff who come from and are responsive to the needs of communities most affected by HIV, and the choice is clear: We’re your partner to get to zero. Learn more at

Posted By: Sarah Getachew, Program Associate, AIDS United - Thursday, March 03, 2016

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