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Frequently Asked Questions


What is PrEP?

PrEP, or pre-exposure prophylaxis, is a highly effective medication that can prevent HIV for people who are HIV negative.

Where can I get PrEP?

PrEP is available by prescription from doctors, nurse practitioners, and/or physician assistants, but we can help! Caracole is an Ohio PAPI provider. PAPI, or Prevention Assistance Program Interventions, is a program that pays for PrEP-related medical costs, like co-pays, doctor visits and health insurance premiums.

How effective is PrEP?

PrEP is highly effective for preventing HIV. Studies have shown that PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV from sex by about 99% when taken as prescribed. Among people who inject drugs, PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV by at least 74% when taken as prescribed. Currently, PrEP shots are not recommended for people who inject drugs. PrEP is less effective when not taken as prescribed.

How long does it take for PrEP to work?

PrEP pills reach maximum protection from HIV at:

  • About 7 days of daily use for receptive anal sex (bottoming)
  • About 21 days of daily use for receptive vaginal sex and injection drug use

There is no available data on PrEP pill effectiveness for insertive anal sex (topping) or insertive vaginal sex.

It is unknown how long PrEP shots take to reach maximum protection during sex.

What are the different types of PrEP?

PrEP is available as a daily pill or a monthly injection.

Are there any side effects of PREP?

While on PrEP, some people may experience side effects like diarrhea, nausea, headache, fatigue and stomach pain as well as potential complications in kidney function. To mitigate this risk, people prescribed PrEP should attend regular check-ups to ensure that the medication is working as intended. Tell your health care provider about any side effects that are severe or do not go away. For more information on side effects, visit the drug manufacturers’ website.

What is the PAPI program?

PAPI, or Prevention Assistance Program Interventions, is an Ohio Department of Health program for HIV negative Ohio residents with or seeking a prescription for PrEP. PAPI can help pay for medical costs associated with PrEP, like:

  • Office and medical co-pays
  • Co-pays associated with required laboratory work
  • Medical services for people who are not eligible for insurance
How do I know if I qualify for the PAPI program?

To enroll in the PAPI program, you must:

  • Be HIV negative
  • Live in Ohio
  • Make below $72,900 (500% of the Federal Poverty Level)*

* 500% of the Federal Poverty Level for a household of one; amount is different for those who have children or more members in the household.

How do I enroll in the PAPI program?

Caracole is a PAPI program provider. Call our main line (513) 761-1480 and ask to speak to a PrEP health navigator, who will work with you on what’s needed to enroll in the program. Or visit ohiv.org/free-prep to be referred to a PAPI program provider near you.

What is PEP and where can I get it?

PEP, or post-exposure prophylaxis, is a 28-day pill regimen that must be started within 72 hours after a possible exposure to HIV to prevent the virus from taking hold in your body. Every hour counts. PEP should be used only in emergency situations. It is not meant for regular use by people who may be exposed to HIV frequently.

Caracole cannot prescribe PEP medication. We recommend that you go to an emergency room or talk to your doctor.

Where can I get FREE condoms?

Condoms and safer sex kits are available for FREE at our Northside office:

4138 Hamilton Avenue
Cincinnati, OH 45223

Additional local locations that offer FREE condoms:

Also, ask us about internal condoms! This type of condom is worn inside the vagina or anus and provides the same kind of protection from HIV, STIs and unwanted pregnancy that external condoms provide. Learn more by reading our Condom Use Tips article!

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