For those who are sexually active, no prevention strategy is 100% effective, but PrEP can be combined with other HIV/STI prevention methods to provide even greater protection than when used alone.

These include:

  1. Using condoms consistently and correctly.

  2. Getting HIV testing with your partners.

  3. Getting STD testing with your partners.

  4. Choosing less risky sexual behaviors, such as oral sex.

  5. If you inject drugs, participating in a drug treatment
    program or using sterile injection equipment.


Who Should Consider Taking PrEP?

CDC recommends that PrEP is indicated for people who do not have HIV and are at substantial risk for HIV. For sexual transmission, this includes anyone who is in an ongoing relationship with a partner who has HIV.

It also includes anyone who:

  1. is not in a mutually monogamous* relationship with a partner who recently tested HIV-negative, and

  2. is a gay or bisexual man who has had anal sex without a condom or been diagnosed with an STD in the past 6 months; or a heterosexual man or woman who does not regularly use condoms during sex with partners of unknown HIV status who are at substantial risk of HIV infection (e.g., people who inject drugs or have bisexual male partners).

  3. For people who inject drugs, this includes those who have injected illicit drugs in the past 6 months and who have shared injection equipment or been in drug treatment for injection drug use in the past 6 months.

  4. For heterosexual couples where one partner has HIV and the other does not, PrEP can help protect the uninfected partner during conception and pregnancy. People who use PrEP must take the drug every day and return to their provider every 3 months for a repeat HIV test, prescription refills, and follow-up

Some people on PrEP have side effects like an upset stomach or loss of appetite but these are mild and usually go away in the first month. PrEP is only for people who are at ongoing substantial risk of HIV infection. For people who need to prevent HIV after a single high-risk event of potential HIV exposure—such as sex without a condom, needle-sharing injection drug use, or sexual assault—there is another option called postexposure prophylaxis, or PEP. PEP must begin within 72 hours of exposure. See our PEP Q&A for more information..



Are HIV and AIDS the same thing?

HIV (Human immunodeficiency virus) attacks the body's immune system. When it does, HIV weakens the body's ability to fight off infection. If left untreated, HIV will eventually weaken the immune system so much that the person will become sick from certain types of infections. When the person gets these infections, he or she is said to have AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). For some, it takes a long time to develop these infections and therefore AIDS. For others it takes less time. Not everyone with HIV has AIDS and AIDS is not the same as HIV.

The Symptoms of HIV

Remember Not to Rely On Symptoms...Get Tested Because many people who have been infected with HIV have few or no symptoms initially, testing is the only way to know for sure if you are infected with HIV. There are, however, an assortment of symptoms that can be associated with HIV infection.


Symptoms Early After Infection - Acute HIV - In emergency departments and family practice offices, people come in with symptoms like fever, headache, muscle and joint pain, sore throat, rash and diarrhea. In response to these symptoms, physicians diagnose the flu and send the patient on their way. In the majority of cases, their diagnosis proves correct.


But unfortunately, a number of people with these vague, indistinct symptoms have a more serious illness than the flu; these symptoms may signal the acute stages of HIV infection.

 PrEP 101 

What is PrEP?

Pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, is a way for people who don’t havdsc_0215e HIV to prevent HIV infection by taking a pill every day.


The pill contains two medicines that are also used to treat HIV. If you take PrEP and are exposed to HIV through sex or injection drug use, these medicines can work to keep the virus from taking hold in your body.

In several studies of PrEP, the risk of getting HIV infection was lower—up to 92% lower—for participants who took the medicines consistently than for those who didn’t take the medicines. PrEP does not work nearly as well if it is not taken daily.


Get tested today.

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Serving Oakland’s Diverse and Vibrant

LGBTQ+ Community since 2017.