Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP)

What is PrEP?

PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) is daily medicine that can reduce your chance of getting HIV. When taken every day as prescribed, it is more than 90% effective. It is not HIV treatment, and cannot be taken if you are already living with HIV.

While PrEP is a great tool to reduce your chance of getting HIV, it does not protect against other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). To reduce your risk for other STIs, it is recommended that you use other safer sex methods – such as internal and external condoms, dental dams or capes – while taking PrEP.
  • All registered UC Davis students can visit the Love Lab for no-cost safer sex products. Non-latex options are available!
  • Check out the UC Davis Sexcess Map to find sexual health resources on and around campus.

Is PrEP right for me?

Maybe! Think about the following questions:
  • Do you have a sexual partner who is living with HIV?
  • Have you been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the last year?
  • Do you have more than one sexual partner?
  • Have you had vaginal and/or anal sex without condoms?
  • Have you exchanged sex for something you need?
  • Do you share needles?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then keep reading and consider talking to your healthcare provider about PrEP.

How do you get PrEP?

Make an appointment with your healthcare provider. If you and your provider agree that PrEP is right for you, then they will test you for HIVand do some other lab work.

  • All UC Davis students can be seen at Student Health & Counseling Services (SHCS), regardless of insurance provider. Schedule an appointment through Health-e-Messaging or by calling the 24/7 Advice Nurse/Appointment Desk at 530-752-2349.
  • If you are covered under another person’s health plan in California and are concerned about confidentiality, then you can check out My Health, My Info for assistance with submitting a Confidential Communication Request to your insurance provider.

Students with UC SHIP: SHCS offers co-pay cards through Gilead Sciences, the manufacturer of Truvada for PrEP, to make PrEP more accessible to you. With the co-pay card and SHIP, you can get PrEP for $0 – yes, zero! – at the SHCS Pharmacy.

Students without UC SHIP: Many insurance plans will cover the cost of PrEP, so you may not have to pay anything. Call the number on the back of your insurance card, and ask them about PrEP. While you can definitely be seen at SHCS, it may be more cost-effective for you to see a healthcare provider in your insurance network. Check out Gilead Sciences’ Paying for Truvada for PrEP website to learn more about cost.

Are there side effects?

Every person’s body is different, and many people taking PrEP do not experience any side effects. However, some people may experience the following during the first few weeks of taking PrEP:

  • Upset stomach
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness

Some people may also experience decreased bone mineral density, reduced kidney function and liver inflammation – although these conditions generally improve after stopping PrEP. To help reduce the risk of medical complications, it is recommended that you decrease alcohol intake.

With all of that said, people taking PrEP are regularly monitored by their healthcare provider to make sure their liver, kidneys and bones are healthy while taking PrEP.

Talking with Partners about PrEP and STIs/HIV

These conversations can be awkward, but it’s important to talk about PrEP and STIs/HIV before sex – that way, you don’t get caught up in the heat of the moment. Here are some conversation starters:

  • Have you heard about PrEP?
  • My last STI/HIV test was on ______ and my results were ______. What about you?
  • How do you feel about using condoms? 

Check out Start Talking for more communication tips and conversation starters!