I got my first boyfriend recently. We’ve had oral sex, but not anal sex. We were watching tv and saw an ad for PrEP medicines. Since we are gay, should we just get on PrEP now to prevent HIV or are these medicines only for older guys? If not now, when?

Thanks for your question and for thinking about your sexual health. PrEP stands for pre-exposure prophylaxis, which means to help prevent something from happening, such as a disease. PrEP is a medicine you take daily that helps prevent transmission of HIV (human immunodeficiency virus). You take it before being exposed to HIV. If you’ve recently been exposed to HIV you should consider PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis).

You should consider taking PrEP if:

  • you are a sex-assigned at birth male and have sex with males only or both males and females,
  • you are in a relationship with someone who is HIV positive, and/or
  • you use drugs intravenously.

While it is more commonly prescribed in adults, healthcare providers are now prescribing PrEP for teenagers as well.

If you are interested in starting PrEP that’s great! We recommend you talk to your healthcare provider. Before starting PrEP your healthcare provider will do some blood tests and urine tests to make sure it’s safe to start the medicine.

Here is a suggestion about how to bring it up with your healthcare provider: I heard about PrEP; should I use it?

Also make sure to talk to your partner(s) to see if they have been tested for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.

For more information about PrEP: cdc.gov/hiv/basics/prep.html