We've got answers.

Have questions about PrEP?

Side effects/common concerns:

Is PrEP safe? I hear PrEP may damage my bones and kidneys. 

Yes, PrEP is safe. PrEP is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for daily use. The medications in PrEP have been used since 2004 for treating HIV infection. People living with HIV take HIV medications for the rest of their lives.

In general, there are no long-term negative effects on bones or kidneys with PrEP use. In a small percentage of patients, it has been observed that taking PrEP may cause a slight shift in kidney function and/or bone density. However, these shifts in levels were minor, and in the majority of cases returned to normal once the individuals stopped PrEP. As a part of being on PrEP, your health care provider will regularly monitor your kidney function and bone density levels to ensure that they remain normal.

iPrEx study: https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1011205
The iPrEx Study compared Truvada with a placebo pill in nearly 2,500 gay and bisexual men and trans women in six countries. All of the participants also got safer sex counseling and condoms, regular sexually transmitted infection (STI) check-ups and treatment, and HIV testing.


Bone health: https://www.poz.com/article/PrEP-bone-density-27129-5346
Kidney health: https://www.sfaf.org/collections/beta/new-research-at-croi-2016-how-prep-changes-kidney-function/

What are side effects of PrEP and how common are they?

The most common side effects of PrEP are nausea, headaches, and diarrhea. These side effects occur in about 20% of PrEP users, and if side effects do occur, they tend to be mild and should disappear completely within one to two weeks after starting PrEP.

All medications have the potential for side effects. This doesn’t mean the medication is unsafe. The benefits of PrEP use outweigh the common side effects. One benefit includes prevention of HIV infection. People living with HIV take HIV medications for the rest of their lives. 

Can PrEP make my depression worse?

No. There is no evidence linking PrEP usage to depression.

Is it safe to take workout supplements with PrEP?

Yes. There is no evidence to suggest that it is unsafe to take PrEP with workout supplements. 

Can I drink alcohol or use cannabis while I am on PrEP?

Yes. There is no evidence to suggest that it is unsafe to drink alcohol or use cannabis while taking PrEP, or that alcohol or cannabis use decreases the effectiveness (how well it works) of PrEP in protecting you against HIV.

I read online about cases of lactic acidosis caused by PrEP and I am terrified…

There is no credible evidence linking PrEP usage to lactic acidosis. 

What if I want to stop taking PrEP? How should I stop?

If you want to stop taking PrEP, contact your health care provider to inform them of your decision. You can stop taking the medication at any time, but keep in mind that you will not continue to be protected against HIV by PrEP if you stop taking it. 

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AntiViral Research Center

at UC San Diego School of Medicine

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