Getting Ready for PrEP

What’s PrEP?

PrEP is a once-daily pill that greatly reduces your risk of HIV infection. There are different drug combinations for PrEP. Your healthcare provider will help you choose the right one for you.

PrEP can prevent HIV infection by stopping the virus from infecting your body if you are exposed.

Who should consider taking PrEP?

PrEP is for anyone who is HIV negative and wants to stay that way. You may particularly benefit from PrEP if you:

How can I pay for PrEP?

PrEP medications and the necessary follow-up appointments are covered by most insurances. If you do not have insurance or have trouble paying for PrEP, there are financial assistance options available to help pay for the medication and lab costs.

A monthly medication prescription is necessary for PrEP. If you are uninsured or cannot afford your medication costs, contact prep@howardbrown.org or 773.388.1600 ext. 5120 to discuss financial assistance options available to you.

Regular labs are required when taking PrEP. Quest Diagnostics processes the labs at all Howard Brown sites. If you have a copay due with your labs, you will receive a bill directly from Quest. If you have trouble paying for your PrEP labs or are concerned about the cost, contact preplabs@howardbrown.org or 773.388.1600 ext. 7260 to discuss financial assistance options available to you.

What can I expect during my first visit?

Expect your first appointment to last an hour to an hour and a half.

Be prepared to have your blood drawn and provide samples for STI screening.

During your visit, your healthcare provider will talk to you about your medical and sexual health history. You will be asked about medications you take and any possible symptoms of acute HIV infection.

You will receive information at your appointment about PrEP and other safer sex options.

If you are uninsured or cannot afford PrEP, you will meet with a navigator to discuss financial assistance options available to you.


Are there side effects?

Most people who take PrEP do not report any side effects. For those who do, the most common side effects are nausea, upset stomach, headaches and fatigue. These symptoms often go away after a few weeks of taking PrEP.

If these side effects bother you, speak to your healthcare provider. Your provider can talk to you about ways to treat the side effects you may be experiencing.

Your provider will monitor your lab results for other PrEP-related side effects.

How can I stay on PrEP?

PrEP works best if you take it at the same time every day. If you forget to take your pill, take it as soon as you remember.

If you realize you forgot to take a pill and it is almost time for your next pill, just take one pill and resume your normal schedule. Do not double the dose to catch up.

If you keep missing scheduled doses, ask your provider about ways to stay on track.

PrEP Tip: Carry a pill with you

To help you remember, carry a pill in a pill box or a sealed container. This way, if you miss a dose you will have a pill on hand.

Visit your healthcare provider every three months for medication refills and checkups. A checkup will include HIV screening and other tests as needed.

Your provider will talk to you about:

Your provider will also screen you for other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) as needed.

Tell your provider right away if you experience fevers, fatigue, swollen glands or a rash – these may be early signs of an HIV infection.

Can I take PrEP if I use hormonal birth control or if I am pregnant?

PrEP does not interfere with hormonal birth control, including emergency contraception. PrEP may be an option if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or trying to get pregnant. Ask your provider for more information.

Can I take PrEP if I’m on hormones?

PrEP does not interfere with hormone therapy and is an effective prevention option for transgender and gender nonconforming people.

If you have questions or want more information contact us at prep@howardbrown.org or 773.388.1600 ext. 5120

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