Learn about PrEP

  • navigate_next   PrEP is the use of anti-HIV medication.
  • navigate_next   Does PrEP provide other protection?
  • navigate_next   PrEP is another option for HIV prevention.
  • navigate_next   What is the difference between PrEP, PEP, and ART?
  • navigate_next   Is PrEP for me?
  • navigate_next   What is PrEP?
  • navigate_next   Why do I need to take PrEP now when I can take ARVs....

How does PrEP work?

  • navigate_next   How well does PrEP work?
  • navigate_next   How often do I need to take PrEP?
  • navigate_next   How long does it take for PrEP to work?
  • navigate_next   Is PrEP Safe?
  • navigate_next   Does PrEP have side effects?
  • navigate_next   Can I get HIV from taking PrEP?
  • navigate_next   If I take PrEP, does this mean I have to take it for....
  • navigate_next   What happens if I miss a pill?
  • navigate_next   What if I want to stop taking PrEP?
  • navigate_next   Can I take PrEP for one night only?
  • navigate_next   Can I use PrEP and contraception together?
  • navigate_next   If I take PrEP, can I stop using condoms when I have sex?
  • navigate_next   What happens if you take PrEP and you are HIV-positive?
  • navigate_next   Does PrEP work when used together with other HIV prevention methods?
  • navigate_next   Starting PrEP
  • navigate_next   Taking PrEP
  • navigate_next   PrEP means taking a pill every day.

Who can take PrEP?

  • navigate_next   Who should take PrEP?
  • navigate_next   Is PrEP for me?
  • navigate_next   Can I share PrEP with other people, my HIV-positive partner or use someone....
  • navigate_next   Where can I get PrEP?

Where is PrEP available?

PrEP is the use of anti-HIV medication.

PrEP is the use of anti-HIV medication that keeps HIV-negative people from getting HIV.

Pre – before

Exposure – coming into contact with HIV

Prophylaxis – a medicine to prevent infection

Does PrEP provide other protection?

No. It only protects against HIV infection. PrEP does not protect against pregnancy or other sexually transmitted infections.

PrEP is another option for HIV prevention.

HIV prevention options include:

  • Condoms
  • Counselling
  • Male medical circumcision
  • Healthy lifestyles
  • PrEP
  • PEP
  • ART for partners living with HIV
  • Treatment for STIs

What is the difference between PrEP, PEP, and ART?

All three contain antiretroviral medicines in different combination for different purposes:

PrEP is a pill that has 2 anti-HIV medicines taken daily to prevent HIV for HIV-negative people. PrEP is taken before you think you might be exposed to HIV.

PEP is taken within 72 hours after exposure to HIV (e.g. after rape) for 28 days to prevent HIV. PeP is taken after you think you have been exposed to HIV.

ART is a 3-medicine treatment for HIV-positive people that reduces the levels of HIV in a person’s body. ART helps the body stay strong and helps it fight off infections and other illnesses.

How well does PrEP work?

HIV-negative people who take PrEP every day can lower their risk of HIV by more than 90%.

How often do I need to take PrEP?

You need to take it once a day at approximately the same time. You can take it within a few hours of your normal time - as long as you only take one pill a day.

How long does it take for PrEP to work?

It takes up to 7 days to be fully protected. PrEP must be taken daily!

Is PrEP Safe?

PrEP has been shown to be very safe.

PrEP is also safe with alcohol and drugs, as well as contraceptives and other medicine.

Does PrEP have side effects?

Some people may experience mild side effects when they start PrEP.

The most common side effects include:

  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Tiredness
  • Diarrhoea
  • Depression
  • Abnormal dreams
  • Vomiting
  • Rash
  • Problems sleeping
  • Changes in appetite

In most people, these side effects go away after a few weeks.

Can I get HIV from taking PrEP?

No, you cannot get HIV from PrEP. The medications in PrEP work to prevent HIV.

If I take PrEP, does this mean I have to take it for the rest of my life?

No. It is important that you take PrEP daily while at risk of getting HIV.

When you feel that you are no longer at risk you can talk to your healthcare provider about stopping PrEP.

What happens if I miss a pill?

If you missed a pill, take it as soon as you remember, and continue to take daily as before.

PrEP requires strict adherence to daily medication and regular HIV testing. Where possible, it should be used together with other HIV prevention methods.

If it is used properly, PrEP will play a role in helping to reduce the number of new HIV infections in South Africa.

What if I want to stop taking PrEP?

If you decide that you no longer wish to take PrEP, discuss stopping with a healthcare provider. You will get information for how long after you should continue to make sure you are properly protected.

Can I take PrEP for one night only?

No. You need to take the pill once a day for at least 7 days before you are fully protected.

Can I use PrEP and contraception together?

Yes, PrEP can be taken with any kind of contraception.

If I take PrEP, can I stop using condoms when I have sex?

PrEP is an extra HIV prevention option and where possible, should be used in combination with condoms.

Using condoms is still the best way to prevent HIV infection. Condoms protect against STIs and pregnancy when used correctly and consistently.

What happens if you take PrEP and you are HIV-positive?

PrEP should not be used as HIV treatment. HIV-positive people need a combination of three ARVs for treatment, given by the healthcare provider, according to their needs.

Does PrEP work when used together with other HIV prevention methods?

Yes. PrEP works when used together with other effective HIV prevention methods. It does not prevent STIs or pregnancy.

Starting PrEP

First visit: HIV and blood test screening Get your PrEP supply for a month

One month visit: HIV and blood test screening Get your 3-month prescription and collect your pills every month

Monthly visit: Use your prescription to collect your pills every month at your clinic

Every three months: Every 3 months, you return for an HIV test and a new 3-month prescription for PrEP

Taking PrEP

Taken daily, PrEP is an additional prevention option for HIV negative people

PrEP means taking a pill every day.

PrEP means taking a pill every day and going for regular HIV testing, NO EXCUSES! PrEP should be used with other HIV prevention methods.

Who should take PrEP?

PrEP is for anyone who is HIV-negative and feels they might be at risk of getting HIV.

If you or anyone you know are unsure about taking PrEP, why not try going through this Roadmap to see if PrEP could be a good option for you.

Is PrEP for me?

Taking a pill every day for ongoing protection from HIV might not be for everybody, but it is an excellent option for people at high risk of getting HIV. Most people can safely use PrEP, but a healthcare provider will need to determine if there is any reason why you should not take it.

Is PrEP for me?

PrEP is for anyone who is HIV-negative and feels they might be at risk of getting HIV. If you are unsure about taking PrEP, why not try going through this roadmap that can help you decide whether PrEP is a good option for you.

Can I share PrEP with other people, my HIV-positive partner or use someone else’s HIV medication?

No. It is important not to share your PrEP pills. Using other people’s ART pills can lead to side effects, allergic reactions, make the medicine less effective, or you can end up without enough medication.

Where can I get PrEP?

Currently in South Africa, PrEP is being provided through a limited number of service delivery sites. If you feel you are at risk of getting HIV, and want to find out more about PrEP, search for your nearest PrEP provider using the PrEP finder

What is PrEP?

PrEP is a new, safe, HIV prevention method for HIV-negative people who feel they might be at risk of getting HIV.

Why do I need to take PrEP now when I can take ARVs if I get HIV?

Taking PrEP is a choice. An HIV prevention choice that is person-centered. If you are HIV-negative and feel you are at risk of getting infected, you can choose to take PrEP for as long as you need to. However, if a person is HIV-positive, they have no choice and have to take ARVs for the rest of their lives in order to be healthy.