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ARC HIV Prophylaxis (PrEP)

HIV prevention treatment

PrEP, or pre-exposure prophylaxis, is a way to prevent people who do not have HIV/AIDS from getting it. This treatment, designed for people who are at substantial risk of getting HIV infection, consists of taking a pill every day. The pill (Truvada) contains two medicines (tenofovir and emtricitabine) that are used in combination with other medicines to treat HIV. When someone is exposed to HIV through high-risk behaviors, these medicines can work to keep the virus from establishing a permanent infection.

Effectiveness of PrEP treatment

When taken consistently, PrEP has been shown to reduce the risk of HIV infection in people who are at high risk by up to 92%. People who use PrEP must commit to taking the drug every day and seeing their health care provider for follow-up every three months.

PrEP is a powerful HIV prevention tool, but it does not protect against STDs. When combined with condoms and other prevention methods, PrEP offers greater protection than when used alone.


  • How effective is PrEP treatment?

    PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV from sex by up to 99% when taken as prescribed.

    Although there is less information about how effective PrEP pills are among people who inject drugs, we know that PrEP pills reduce the risk of getting HIV by at least 74% when taken as prescribed. Currently, PrEP shots are not recommended for people who inject drugs.

    PrEP is less effective when not taken as prescribed.

  • How long does it take for PrEP treatment to work?

    For receptive anal sex (bottoming), PrEP pills reach maximum protection from HIV at about seven days of daily use.

    For receptive vaginal sex and injection drug use, PrEP pills reach maximum protection at about 21 days of daily use.

    No data is available for PrEP pill effectiveness for insertive anal sex (topping) or insertive vaginal sex.

    We don’t know how long it takes for PrEP shots to reach maximum protection during sex.

  • What are the side effects that may come from PrEP treatment?

    Some people experience side effects like diarrhea, nausea, headache, fatigue, and stomach pain. These side effects usually go away over time.

    Tell your ARC provider about any side effects that are severe or do not go away.

  • If I am not at ongoing risk for getting HIV, can I take PrEP only when I’m at risk?

    Taking PrEP pills only when you are at risk for contracting HIV is known as “on-demand” PrEP. The “on-demand” method is not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and is not recommended by CDC. Taking PrEP as prescribed is currently the only FDA-approved schedule for taking PrEP to prevent HIV. When taken as prescribed, PrEP is highly effective for preventing HIV.

  • What if I need to stop taking PrEP?

    There are several reasons why people stop taking PrEP:

    • Your risk of getting HIV becomes low because of changes in your life.
    • You don’t want to take a pill as prescribed or often forget to take your pills.
    • You have side effects from the medicine that are interfering with your life.
    • Blood tests show that your body is reacting to PrEP in unsafe ways.

    Talk to your ARC provider about other HIV prevention methods that may work better for you if you need to stop taking PrEP.

  • If I stopped taking PrEP, how do I start taking it again?

    Talk to your ARC provider if you would like to start taking PrEP again. You will need to take an HIV test before you start PrEP to make sure you don’t have HIV.

  • Can I take PrEP just once if I think I might have recently been exposed to HIV?

    PrEP is for people who are at ongoing risk for HIV.

    PrEP is not the right choice for people who may have been exposed to HIV in the last 72 hours.

    If you may have been exposed to HIV in the last 72 hours, talk to your ARC provider, an emergency room doctor, or an urgent care provider about PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis).

  • Can I take PrEP while on birth control?

    There are no known interactions between PrEP and hormone-based birth control methods, e.g., the pill, patch, ring, shot, implant, or IUD. It is safe to use both at the same time.

  • Will PrEP interfere with my hormone therapy?

    There are no known drug conflicts between PrEP and hormone therapy, and there is no reason why the drugs cannot be taken at the same time.

  • Can I stop using condoms if I take PrEP?

  • Can I take PrEP during pregnancy or while breastfeeding?

    Condoms are less effective at preventing STDs that can be transmitted through sores or cuts on the skin, like human papillomavirusgenital herpes, and syphilis.

  • Can adolescents take PrEP?

    Yes. PrEP pills are approved for use by adolescents without HIV who weigh at least 77 pounds (35 kg) and at risk for getting HIV from sex or injection drug use.

Locations & Providers

  • ARC East 7th
    2785 East 7th Street
    Austin, TX 78702
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    • Kazia L. Parsons, MD
      Kazia Parsons, MD
      Kazia L. Parsons, MD
      Family Medicine

      Accepting new patients

  • ARC Round Rock
    940 Hesters Crossing Road
    Round Rock, TX 78681
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  • ARC South 1st
    3828 South 1st Street
    Austin, TX 78704
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    • Donald R. Brode, MD
      Donald Brode, MD
      Donald R. Brode, MD
      Family Medicine