Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is just one pill a day to help HIV-negative people stay HIV-negative.
PrEP” stands for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis. The word “prophylaxis” means to prevent or control the spread of an infection or disease. The goal of PrEP is to prevent HIV infection from taking hold if you are exposed to the virus. This is done by taking one pill every day. These are some of the same medicines used to keep the virus under control in people who are already living with HIV.
When taken every day, PrEP has been found to reduce the likelihood of HIV infection by over 95%. This effectiveness increases when combined with condoms which are also necessary for the prevention of other sexually transmitted infections.
PrEP is for people without HIV who are at very high risk for getting it from sex or injection drug use. Getting PrEP involves having a detailed and comfortable conversation with a provider who can prescribe it.
You may want to talk to your provider about PrEP if you are a person who:
- Has an HIV-positive sexual partner
- Has condomless sex
- Injects drugs
- Has another substantial risk for HIV
- If you have a partner who is HIV-positive and are considering getting pregnant, talk to your doctor about PrEP if you’re not already taking it. PrEP may be an option to help protect you and your baby from getting an HIV infection while you try to get pregnant, during pregnancy, or while breastfeeding.
If any of the above apply to you and you are interested in PrEP, ask your primary care doctor about PrEP or make an appointment at Washington University Infectious Diseases Clinic.
See the CDC’s website on PrEP Basics for more information about how PrEP works and how it may fit into your lifestyle.
1. Call and get info
- Call 314-362-9098 to learn more about PrEP and make an appointment.
2. Make an appointment
- Make your appointment
- No insurance? No worries! We’ll help you find insurance or low-cost options for PrEP.
3. See the doctor and get tested
- Talk to your doctor
- Learn about PrEP, get your questions answered, and make a sexual health plan that fits your lifestyle and schedule.
- Receive a blood draw to get lab testing.
- Meet with the insurance navigator and social worker.
4. Pick up your PrEP at the pharmacy
- Pick up medication at the pharmacy
- Enroll in PrEP care and medication payment assistance programs
5. Follow-up appointment in 1 month
- Talk to the provider
- Get lab testing
- Get any questions answered.
6. Follow up in 3 months and every 3 months thereafter
- Talk to the provider
- Get lab testing
- Get any questions answered
PrEP appointments consist of three parts:
When you arrive at your PrEP provider’s office, you will sign in and, often, will be asked to fill out some brief paperwork about your medical history. This helps your doctor better understand your risk for HIV and get the whole picture of how PrEP will fit into your life.
2. Meet the doctor
A nurse or scheduler will walk you to your room to wait for your provider. When you meet with your doctor, they will ask you questions about your health. Then, they will explain how PrEP works and answer any questions you may have about taking your medications. Finally, your doctor will help you make a plan to understand and reduce your risk for HIV. At Washington University, we have created a safe space for sexual health discussions for residents of Missouri and other regions.
It is important for people taking PrEP to get certain tests regularly through their provider or a community health center. These tests help your doctor know if PrEP is safe to continue taking. Most of these are done with a basic blood draw.
At the end of your first visit, a scheduler will help you make a follow-up appointment for one month after your first appointment. You can then pick up your PrEP prescription the same day at your own pharmacy or one of our partners, Gateway Apothecary.
Visitors to the PrEP clinic should bring their health insurance card if they are insured and have one. If you’re uninsured, you can still receive PrEP and PrEP-related services at the Washington University PrEP Program.
Before your appointment, if you have insurance, you can call your insurance company to find out what is covered. The number is usually on the back of the card. Ask about:
- If our office is in your insurance network
- If you have a deductible
- How much is your copay or coinsurance for the office visit. This is the amount you pay out of pocket.
At the clinic, we have an on-site insurance navigator, a person trained to help you figure out what your insurance covers and find assistance for those who don’t have insurance or whose insurance doesn’t cover lab testing. The navigator can also call your insurance company with you to ask about what your insurance covers in terms of office visits, laboratory testing and medication costs.
We also have a social worker on site who can help refer you to resources in the St. Louis community for getting insurance; mental health support; substance use programs; housing/employment assistance; food assistance and other needs.
You can get your STI and HIV testing on site on appointment days and at other times. You can also get walk-in HIV testing on Mondays – Wednesdays.
Please see our Services page to read more about other services we offer at the Wash U PrEP program.
Yes, you can get HIV testing with no appointment on Mondays through Wednesdays from 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM.
At Wash U, we try to make PrEP care affordable and accessible for everyone.
Wash U accepts many types of health insurance. Those with insurance can get the out-of-pocket costs of their medicines paid for by three programs: Gilead Access, PAF Foundation co-pay relief program and PAN Foundation.
Those without insurance may be eligible for PrEP free of charge. For assistance paying for PrEP, the Gilead Advancing Access program offers a co-pay assistance coupon that covers up to $7,200 per year for those with private insurance (not government insurance such as MO HealthNet).
At your first visit at the clinic, you will meet with an insurance counselor who can help you enroll in these programs and manage any insurance issues you may have, such as denials of coverage or changes in job and/or insurance.
Wash U has also partnered with an independent (non-retail) pharmacy called Gateway Apothecary to establish the first pharmacy-based PrEP clinic in Missouri to provide follow-up PrEP services, including lab testing, at minimal cost to persons without insurance. Here, PrEP follow-up is delivered by a clinical pharmacist at the pharmacy under the supervision of a doctor. PrEP users and non-users said that they felt at times even more comfortable at the pharmacy to get PrEP care. You will be enrolled in this program at your first appointment if it applies to you.
Visit the following websites to learn more about taking pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to stay HIV-negative:
To learn more about how PrEP works:
- St. Louis Effort for AIDS
- Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
- Black AIDS Institute
- Project Inform
To learn more about paying for PrEP:
To connect with other people on PrEP: