Pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, is a medication that can help prevent HIV infection. Studies have shown that taking PrEP everyday reduces the risk of infection in men who have sex with men, transgender people, an heterosexual cis-men and cis-women.

Daily PrEP, with regular condom use and other HIV prevention methods, reduces HIV infection risk by up to 90%.

In July 2012, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the combination of FTC-TDF, or Truvada®, for use as PrEP among sexually active adults at risk for HIV infection.

Here are some quick facts about PrEP and more information about Truvada.


Quick Facts

  • PrEP uses Truvada® (FTC-TDF), an FDA-approved antiretroviral medication, to prevent HIV infection
  • PrEP should only be taken by people who are HIV-negative
  • Taking PrEP does not mean that you are 100% protected from getting infected with HIV
  • PrEP should not replace other safer sex practices, such as condom use
  • PrEP does not prevent other sexually transmitted infections
  • PrEP should only be taken with the support of a health care provider
  • Taking PrEP includes getting routine blood tests done
  • You may have side effects from taking PrEP

Before starting PrEP >>>

  • Have a thorough and honest talk about your sexual activity and HIV risk with a health care provider
  • Get an HIV test Test for hepatitis B, kidney function and sexually transmitted infections

What is Truvada?

prep hiv pill san diegoTruvada® is a pill made up of two HIV medications – Viread (tenofivir disoproxil fumarate) and Emtriva (emtricitabine). Currently, it is used together with other medications to treat HIV infection and hepatitis B. It is also approved by the FDA for preventing HIV infection.

What are the side effects?

Truvada® is usually well tolerated, but short-term side effects that were seen in PrEP studies included headaches, weight loss, nausea, diarrhea and stomach pain. No significant, long-term health effects have been seen in HIV-negative people who have taken PrEP for up to 5 years. However, it is known that Truvada® can cause bone loss and damage the kidneys in some people. Those who use PrEP need to be monitored closely.

When is PrEP right for you?

If you’re HIV-negative and are trying to stay that way, PrEP might be right for you. Here are some questions for you to consider:

  • Is your main sexual partner HIV-positive?
  • Has a man – especially an HIV-positive man or a man whose HIV status you are not sure about – penetrated you during vaginal or anal sex recently, without a condom?
  • Have you been treated recently for a sexually transmitted infection?
  • Do you or your sex partner(s) use alcohol and/or drugs heavily?
  • Do you or your sex partners(s) exchange sex for money, housing or other needs?

Where Can I Get PrEP?

PrEP must be prescribed by a medical provider, just like any other prescription. Several insurance companies cover the cost of PrEP and in certain instances, people may qualify to obtain PrEP directly from the manufacturer at no cost.

A number of PrEP research studies are being conducted in the U.S. For instance, the California HIV/AIDS Research Program of the University of California is funding PrEP studies for cisgender women and transgender populations. The women’s study is open and actively seeking participants; the transgender persons’ study is expected to open in Fall 2016 (both of these studies offer PrEP at no cost to participants).

While taking PrEP, you should have >>>

  • Doctor visits every 2-3 months
  • HIV tests at least every 3 months
  • Evaluations for side effects, adherence and risk

Women’s PrEP Study

Are You a Sexually Active Woman?

If so, you may be eligible to participate in a research study offering pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), a medication that you take daily to prevent you from getting HIV. This study will evaluate methods to help you take this medication, including text messaging and short counseling sessions.

What does the study involve?

  • Six study visits over a one year period
  • During each study visit, participants will receive PrEP medication at no cost, have blood work to make sure you are healthy and the medication is not causing problems, and respond to questions about your sexual health and how you are taking PrEP
  • Testing for HIV and STDs
  • Referrals to care or other services (if needed)
  • Compensation provided for your time and effort

Eligibility requirements:

  • Age 18 or older, assigned female at birth and currently identify as female
  • Sexually active, HIV-negative, and NOT currently pregnant

Interested in participating?

Please contact Yvette at (619) 543-2585 or and ask about the women’s PrEP study.

You can also complete the following form and a study representative will contact you.


UC San Diego AntiViral Research Center

220 Dickinson Street, Suite A

San Diego, CA 92103

Transgender PrEP Study


PrEP is a daily pill that helps prevent getting HIV

Participants Needed:

We are looking for transgender and gender non-binary people to join our study for PrEP adherence via text messages.

What does the study involve?

  • Six visits over a one-year period
  • PrEP, HIV/STI testing, and safety labs at no cost
  • Daily text reminders to help take PrEP everyday
  • Answer surveys about your sexual health
  • Compensation provided for your time

Eligibility requirements:

  • Age 18 or older
  • Identify as transgender or gender non-binary
  • HIV-negative

Interested in participating?

If you live in San Diego, please contact Eric at (619) 543-5011 or; if you live in Los Angeles, please contact Chloe at (323) 993-8919 or

You can also complete the form below and a study member will contact you.

PrEP Resources

PrEP Resource Guide – San Diego (click here)

Our research staff has worked hard to put together a resource guide for San Diego that includes a list of doctors prescribing PrEP, what insurance(s) they accept, and financial resources to help pay for a PrEP prescription. The purpose of this guide is to offer information for getting a prescription for Truvada® as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). It does not guarantee coverage. Verify that your insurance is accepted BEFORE SCHEDULING AN APPOINTMENT with a doctor. Click to access a PDF of the PrEP Resource Guide for San Diego (click here).

Here are some informational sites that can provide you even more information about PrEP:


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

  • Carson – Harbor-UCLA, Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute
    323-343-8255 |
  • Los Angeles – AIDS Project LA Health & Wellness, Gleicher/Chen Health Center
  • Los Angeles – USC Rand Schrader Clinic 5P21
    323-343-8282 |
  • San Diego – UC San Diego AntiViral Research Center (AVRC)
    619-543-8080 |