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Ready, Set, PrEP provides free HIV-prevention meds

A man holding a prescription bottle talks to a healthcare provider.

Jan. 3, 2020—The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has launched a new program for people at high risk of getting HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Ready, Set, PrEP will give those who qualify access to preventive medicines at no cost.

PrEP, or pre-exposure prophylaxis, is a daily pill that makes it harder for the HIV infection to take hold. In studies, taking PrEP daily lowered the risk of getting HIV from sex by 99%. And it lowered the risk of getting HIV from injection drug use by at least 74%.

Who should take PrEP?

More than 1 million people in the U.S. are at risk for HIV and could benefit from PrEP. But only a small number take it.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, PrEP might be right for any sexually active person who doesn't currently have HIV but:

  • Has a sexual partner with HIV.
  • Is considering getting pregnant with a partner who has HIV.
  • Hasn't consistently used a condom.
  • Has been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease in the past 6 months.
  • Has taken non-occupational post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP)—medicine designed to stop an infection after someone is exposed to HIV—especially if this has happened more than once or they report behaviors that continue to put them at risk.

People who inject drugs should also consider PrEP if they:

  • Have an injection partner with HIV.
  • Share needles, syringes or other materials used to inject drugs.

Two PrEP medications are available under the brand names Truvada and Descovy. A healthcare provider can help you decide which is right for you.

Who can apply for free PrEP?

To qualify for the Ready, Set, PrEP program, people must:

  • Test negative for HIV.
  • Have a valid prescription for PrEP.
  • Have no other prescription drug insurance. (PrEP is covered by most insurance plans and Medicaid.)

If you qualify, your PrEP medications will be fully paid for. But you may still have to pay for clinic visits and lab tests, depending on your income.

To find out if you qualify, visit GetYourPrEP.com or call 855.447.8410. Your healthcare provider may also be able to help you apply.

Putting a stop to HIV

Ready, Set, PrEP is part of a bigger government initiative to reduce new HIV infections in the U.S. by 75% in five years and by 90% in 10 years. The goal is to end the HIV epidemic completely. Other efforts will focus on early diagnosis, quick treatment and a faster response to outbreaks.

Do you know your HIV facts? Here's how the virus does—and doesn't—spread.

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