Most people who take PrEP have no major side effects. In some cases, users experience minor side effects such as weight loss, abdominal pain, or headaches, most of which go away quickly. Serious side effects associated with PrEP are very rare.
Minor Side Effects
Most people have few to no side effects when they take PrEP. If you do experience side effects, they are most likely to occur when you first begin taking the prescription, and they usually go away entirely within a few weeks. The side effects most commonly associated with PrEP include:
- Weight loss.
- Abdominal pain.
- Mild nausea.
Most people who have experienced one or more of these symptoms did not find them bothersome enough to stop taking PrEP.
Serious Side Effects
In rare cases, PrEP might cause more serious side effects, such as:
- Liver problems.
- Lactic acid buildup in the blood (lactic acidosis).
- New or worsening kidney problems, including kidney failure.
- Immune system changes.
- Bone pain.
- Thinning or softening of bones.
As with any medication, there’s a small risk that you could develop a serious health condition when you take PrEP. However, these adverse outcomes are very rare. In addition, the regular lab work required to get a PrEP prescription might be able to detect some of these health issues before they worsen.
What Is PrEP?
PrEP stands for pre-exposure prophylaxis. This medication is a daily pill that helps prevent HIV infection. When taken correctly, PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV through sexual activity by upward of 90%. For intravenous drug users, PrEP can reduce the risk of HIV by more than 70%. The brand names for PrEP are Truvada and Descovy.
If you experience side effects that are severe or do not go away while taking PrEP, be sure to alert your medical provider.