What is PrEP?

PrEP is a pill you take every day to help prevent the infection of HIV.

PrEP stands for Pre-exposure prophylaxis. “Pre-exposure” means- before being in contact with. “Prophylaxis” means- to prevent the spread of an infection.

PrEP, also known as Truvada® or Descovy®, is a pill taken by individuals who are HIV negative to prevent infection. When taken daily, PrEP can reduce the risk of HIV infection from sex by over 90%. The risk is even lower if also using condoms and other HIV prevention methods.

How does PrEP work?

PrEP works in the body by disrupting an enzyme called HIV reverse transcriptase in order to keep HIV from replicating. By preventing replication, PrEP acts a shield to block the HIV virus from infecting the body.

Once taking PrEP, the medication reaches it’s maximum level of protection after 1-4 weeks. PrEP starts working in certain areas of the body faster than others, which is why there is a range. Talk to your doctor about the specific risks related to your sexual activities to see which medication is best for you.

PrEP has been shown in multiple studies to reduce the risk of infection over 90% when taken daily. However, it is important to take PrEP every day, as taking it less will lower the level of protection.

To learn more about PrEP, check out the resources below:

PrEP Facts

Please PrEP Me

Getting To Zero: Stop HIV

Is PrEP right for me?

If you are HIV-negative and trying to stay that way, PrEP might be right for you. Questions to consider are:

  • Do you have any sexual partners who are HIV-positive?
  • Do you have anal or vaginal sex without using a condom? (especially with someone who is HIV-positive, or whose HIV status is unknown?)
  • Have you been treated recently for a sexually transmitted infection?
  • Do you or your sex partner(s) use IV drugs?
  • Do you or your sex partner(s) exchange sex for money, housing, or other needs?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, or anticipate answering yes to these questions in the near future, PrEP may be right for you.

About Truvada

What to know about Truvada®:

Currently, Truvada®is an approved medication for PrEP. Truvada® is a pill that combines two HIV medications- Emtricitabine and Tenofovir Disoproxil Fumarate.

Before taking Truvada® as PrEP, you will need to be tested for HIV, as PrEP should only be taken by individuals who are HIV-negative.

Most people taking Truvada® do not experience any side effects. However, some possible effects are:

  • nausea
  • headaches
  • decrease in bone density
  • kidney injury

Doctor visits will be scheduled about every 3 months to monitor for side effects, assess kidney health, and to test for HIV. If side effects such as nausea or headaches do occur, they should go away within a few days. A doctor may also suggest taking the medication with food to help with nausea. Bone loss and kidney injury are rare, but if these occur, symptoms should go away after stopping Truvada®. No significant, long-term side effects have been seen in HIV-negative people who have taken Truvada®.

Private: Transgender PrEP Study

Get PrEP at no cost for participation in a research study!

Enrollment for our study is currently CLOSED.

We are looking for transgender and gender non-binary individuals to join our study for PrEP switch study.

Our study will require that participants take/have taken Truvada® for at least 12 weeks* then switch to Descovy®. Descovy® is a medication that had been recently approved by the FDA for PrEP. However, while Descovy® has been approved for PrEP with most types of sex, Descovy® has not yet been approved for PrEP with insertive vaginal sex. More information can be found on the “About Descovy®” page. If you are interested in the study but unsure if Descovy® is right for you, please leave your contact information below or contact us. Study staff will review details with you to see if the study is right for you.

*If you have been taking Truvada® continuously for at least 3 months, you may be able to switch directly to Descovy® at your first visit. If you have taken Truvada® for less than 3 months, you may be able to join the study while you continue to take Truvada® from your provider, and then switch to Descovy® after 3 months. Study staff will be able to let you know if this is possible.

If you are interested in joining the study but not yet on Truvada®, feel free to contact us and we can get you connected to a PrEP provider.

What does the study involve?

  • Six or seven IN-PERSON visits over a one-year period
  • Take Truvada® for 12 weeks then switch to Descovy® for 48 weeks
  • Descovy®, HIV/STI testing, and safety labs at no cost
  • Daily text reminders to take PrEP for at least 12 weeks
  • Answer surveys about your sexual health

Eligibility Requirements

  • Age 18 or older
  • Identify as transgender or nonbinary
  • HIV- negative
  • Currently taking or able to start on Truvada®
  • Willing to switch to Descovy®

Interested in participating?

If you live in San Diego, please contact:

Jordan at (619) 543-3198 or jsilva@health.ucsd.edu.

Get PrEP

Where can I get PrEP?

PrEP must be prescribed by a medical provider. If you have a provider, you can ask them about starting PrEP. If you need a provider, or want a provider that already prescribes PrEP, use the resources below to find someone. Below is a list of resources to get connected with PrEP and other related services.

For transgender and gender non-conforming individuals who qualify, PrEP can be provided for participation in one of our PrEP research studies.

Working With Your Current Provider

If you already have a regular provider, talking to them about PrEP can be a good first step. Below are some resources that can help.

If your provider refuses to prescribe PrEP, use the following resources for help.

Find a Provider in San Diego

Gay Men’s Health Services

Gay Men’s Health Services is a program run by the Family Health Centers of San Diego to provide HIV testing and treatment, STI education, as well as general health care throughout San Diego County. To contact, call 619-876-4462 or visit http://gaymenshealth.org/ to get more information.

Be the Generation

#BeTheGeneration is a campaign run by the LGBT Center in San Diego. With a goal of eliminating new cases of HIV by 2024, #bethegeneration campaign provides testing and information in finding PrEP providers at http://www.thecentersd.org/programs/hiv-services/bethegeneration.html.

County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency

Under the HIV, STD, and Hepatitis Branch, the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency provides health care services and information. To access PrEP visit, http://www.sandiegocounty.gov/content/sdc/hhsa/programs/phs/hiv_std_hepatitis_branch.html. Or call: 619-293-4700.

North County- Connect

Connect is a program through the Vista Community Clinic that connects individuals to PrEP. To contact Connect visit: http://ncsdconnect.org/prep/. Or call: 760-631-5000 ext. 7000.

North County LGBTQ Resource Center

The North County LGBTQ Resource Center provides services, support, and resources to LGBTQ individuals living in North County, San Diego. They also provide resources for connecting to PrEP providers in the North County area. To find providers in North County, visit: http://www.ncresourcecenter.org/prep-providers.

Planned Parenthood (of Pacific Southwest)

Planned Parenthood provides a various health care services and connections to community resources. To connect with PrEP through Planned Parenthood, visit: http://www.plannedparenthood.org/planned-parenthood-pacific-southwest/campaigns/prep-and-pep.

San Ysidro Health

San Ysidro Health provides a variety of health care services dedicated to providing affordable care to the San Ysidro community. To connect with San Ysidro Health visit, http://www.syhc.org/services/support-services/#hiv . Or call: 619-662-4100 to make an appointment.

UC San Diego AntiViral Research Center

UC San Diego AntiViral Research Center (AVRC) provides HIV testing and education. In addition, the AVRC is committed to research to improve HIV related health care. For more information about the AVRC and services provided, visit: http://avrc.ucsd.edu/programs.

The AVRC also conducts research studies, some of which provide access to PrEP. For more information and to inquire about studies you may be eligible for, visit: http://avrc.ucsd.edu/participate/current-studies.

Find a Provider Near You

Please PrEP Me

Visit http://www.pleaseprepme.org/ for an interactive map to find PrEP providers near you. At this time, PleasePrepMe only has resources for providers within the United States, but is working on compiling international resources.

To find resources by state, visit: http://www.pleaseprepme.org/states.

Find a Provider Online

Please PrEP me has information and links to find doctors of PrEP that use telemedicine (connect over the phone or online) to prescribe PrEP. For details about these services, visit: http://www.pleaseprepme.org/online-providers.

Telemedicine providers of PrEP include:

The resources above connect you to a doctor that can prescribe PrEP and can mail your medication directly to you or to your local pharmacy.

Online pharmacies that deliver PrEP to certain cities include:

(please note, Alto requires you to already have a prescription for PrEP from your provider).

When obtaining assistance online, verify any insurance coverage and costs prior to service. Also make sure your health information is protected by using a secure network.

Financial Assistance

Most insurances will cover the cost of PrEP. If you need assistance is affording PrEP or care related to PrEP, check the following resources to see if you are eligible.


For those living in California, you may be eligible for the California PrEP Assistance Program (PrEP-AP). Please PrEP Me has an infograph that explains the program and how to apply.

To learn more visit: http://www.pleaseprepme.org/ca-prep-ap

To access PrEP-AP website directly, visit: http://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DOA/Pages/OA_adap_resources_prepAP.aspx#

United States

Gilead provides assistance with co-pays and other costs through The Gilead Advancing Access® Program. The program provides assistance to obtain financial support and support in getting insurance coverage. For more information, visit: http://www.gileadadvancingaccess.com/.

More Info

To get more information about HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention see the following resources:

California Resources

HIV Insite: Information on HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention.

Project Inform: Non-profit organization providing information and advocacy based in San Francisco.

State of California Office of AIDS: Information from California Department of Public Health


United States Resources


AIDS Info: US Department Health and Human Services

The Body

CDC: Center for Disease Control and Prevention




To learn more about PrEP and participating in a PrEP research study, contact the study site closest to where you live:

  • San Diego – UC San Diego AntiViral Research Center (AVRC)
    619-543-8080 | prepstudy@ucsd.edu