Taking pills to prevent HIV

Scientific studies have demonstrated that it’s possible to avoid being infected with HIV by taking medication before a high-risk sexual encounter (PrEP) or after an unprotected encounter (PEP) with a partner whose HIV status you don’t know or an HIV-positive partner with an unknown viral load.


PrEP: Pre-exposure Prophylaxis

To get PrEP, you need a prescription from a doctor. The medication can be taken daily or on a intermittent basis (as needed, before and after you have sex). It is important to take PrEP as indicated on the prescription, making sure not to skip any doses.

People can decide to take PrEP for a variety of reasons, but the main one is always the same: To avoid getting infected with HIV. PrEP does not protect you from getting infected with other STBBIs. If you have any doubts, concerns, or questions about PrEP, contact your local HIV organization.


PEP: Post-exposure Prophylaxis

PEP is a treatment that needs to be started as soon as possible after a high-risk encounter – within a maximum of 72 hours after a possible exposure to HIV. Because PEP needs to be started as quickly as possible, you can obtain it by going to a hospital emergency department. It is also available at certain specialized clinics. To be effective, PEP must be taken every day for a period of one month. As with PrEP, it’s important to take the treatment as indicated and not skip any doses.


These methods are proven to be effective if the medication is taken as prescribed.

See the pages about PrEP and PEP on this web site for more information.