Drugs that treat and prevent HIV

Drugs that treat and prevent HIV

Infographic Drugs that treat and prevent HIV.  Click on the image to open the PDF

Nearly 7,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with HIV each year.

There is no cure for HIV. But treatments can reduce the amount of virus in the blood so low that tests can no longer find it. This is called “undetectable viral load”.

Being on treatment means that people living with HIV can enjoy longer and healthier lives. And taking medication also reduces the risk of spreading the virus to other people.

Undetectable = Untransmittable (U=U)

HIV treatment

Antiretroviral therapy (ART) = a mix of drugs used to treat HIV

ART reduces the amount of HIV in the body and helps:

  • Reduce the risk of spreading the virus to another person

  • Prevent the virus from becoming AIDS

  • Protect the immune system

ART is recommended for everyone living with HIV.

Treatment should begin as soon as possible after diagnosis.

Great news!

If you don’t have HIV, there are medications that can reduce your chances of contracting the virus if you are exposed to it.

Types of HIV prevention

Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) = a pill or injection you take before being exposed to HIV to protect yourself from infection

The drug prevents HIV from making copies of itself and spreading in a person who is exposed to HIV.

When taken correctly, PrEP reduces the chance of getting HIV from sex by about 99%.

You might consider PrEP if:

  • Have vaginal or anal sex with someone who has HIV

  • Have sex without a condom

  • Have been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection (STI) within the past 6 months

  • Share the needles

Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) = an emergency medicine that you take within 3 days after a possible exposure to HIV

Take 1 pill a day for 28 days. PEP can prevent the virus from taking hold in your body. Don’t wait – the sooner you take the medicine, the better it will work.

PEP is for people who may have been exposed to the virus during sex, while sharing needles, or after being stuck with a needle at work.


Treating and preventing HIV prevents it from spreading. Talk to your doctor about options that might work for you.

This resource was created with support from Gilead and Merck.

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