Denver Public Health HIV Care and Prevention Banner
Denver Public Health Center for Positive Health banner

Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV


Download Facts About PrEP for HIV

Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV

Download the Denver/Colorado Springs HIV Resource Guide

Download the Denver/Colorado Springs HIV Resource Guide

Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) is one way to help prevent HIV. Prophylaxis means disease prevention. In this approach, people who do not have HIV take one pill once a day to reduce the risk of getting HIV. The pill includes two of the same medications used to treat HIV.

How does PrEP work to prevent HIV?

PrEP medicines limit HIV’s ability to enter the body.

  • These medications are typically used to treat people living with HIV. They are very effective in keeping the virus under control by preventing it from dividing and spreading in the body.
  • By stopping HIV virus from dividing and spreading, these medications also prevent new infection.
  • Truvada® is the only current FDA-approved medication to be used for PrEP.

Who should use PrEP for HIV?

PrEP is recommended for people who do not have HIV infection and who are at increased risk for HIV. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Gay and bisexual men
  • Men who have sex with men (MSM) 
  • People who have condom-less vaginal or anal sex 
  • Transgender people, especially transgender women
  • Individuals who share injection drug equipment
  • People who engage in commercial sex work
  • HIV-negative men and women who have a partner living with HIV who does not have an undetectable viral load

How well does PrEP work?

  • Several studies have shown PrEP to be more than 90 percent effective in preventing HIV when used daily. The level of protection will decrease if doses are missed.
  • PrEP is most effective when combined with other prevention efforts, including using condoms.

Does PrEP prevent other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) or pregnancy?

No, PrEP does not prevent other STDs or pregnancy. However, using safer sex practices, such as condoms, will help prevent STDs and pregnancy.

What should an individual expect if they use PrEP?

Taking PrEP for HIV requires a commitment to:

  • Intake interview and counseling.
  • Testing for HIV and STDs, hepatitis B, and kidney function before starting PrEP.
  • Taking a pill every day.
  • Regular medical visits every three months after starting PrEP for follow-up HIV tests and evaluation.

Are there side effects to taking PrEP?

  • People living with HIV have used Truvada® and other similar medications for several years. They are generally easy and safe to take.
  • Some people experience nausea, headaches, and loss of appetite. These can be treated and are not life threatening.
  • Rare long-term side effects include thinning of the bones and kidney problems.

Is PrEP covered by insurance?

Yes, most insurance and Colorado Medicaid cover the cost minus a co-pay or deductible. For people who are uninsured, payment assistance programs are available to provide PrEP at low or no cost.

Who can individuals contact to talk about using PrEP?

Individuals who think they are at increased risk for HIV should talk with the Linkage to Care team at Denver Public Health by calling 303-602-3652 for information, questions about insurance coverage, and referrals. You may also send an email to our team.

Additional Resources

Updated 6/11/2018

The Center for Positive Health Contact Information

The Center for Positive Health: HIV Services at Denver Public Health

Monday through Friday

8 am - 5 pm

605 Bannock St., 5th Floor
Denver, CO 80204-4507
Email Us
(303) 602-8710

HIV Dental Clinic

Monday through Thursday

8 am - 5 pm

(303) 602-8713
Email Us

Public Health Pharmacy
Refills (303) 602-8762

Monday through Friday
8 am - 5:30 pm

Have Feedback about Our Website?

Help us improve our website. Let us know what you like and don't like. Submit comments by email.