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HIV Prevention

Harbor Community Health Centers -  - Primary Care Practice

Harbor Community Health Centers

Primary Care Practice located in San Pedro, CA

Harbor’s dedication to the health of everyone in our San Pedro, Los Angeles, and South Bay family continues with quick and often no-cost access to sexual health services and education.


Harbor’s dedication to the health of everyone in our San Pedro, Los Angeles, and South Bay family continues with quick and often no-cost access to sexual health services and education. 

Why should I get tested for HIV?

The sooner you know you have HIV, the sooner you can start treatment to keep you and your partners healthy. Most people who have HIV don’t develop symptoms for many years. In fact, 1 in 7 people who have HIV don’t know it, so testing is the only way to know for sure.

Everyone who is at risk for HIV should get tested. Activities that put you at risk include having sex without a condom, having sex with an HIV-positive person or someone who doesn’t know their HIV status, and sharing injection equipment (needles).

What happens during a rapid HIV test?

Your care provider gets a blood sample by pricking your finger. That’s it! The provider will test the sample for the virus and the antibodies your body produces when your immune system is exposed to HIV. Results from a rapid test are available in about twenty minutes.

HarborCHC provides free rapid HIV tests. You can be seen on a walk-in basis – you don’t even need an appointment! Just call and ask to speak with our HIV prevention specialist for more information.

I’m worried about a different STD. Can you help?

HarborCHC offers same-day testing and treatment for chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and other sexually transmitted diseases. Having STDs increases your risk of getting HIV, so be sure to get tested for them at least every six months.

How do I protect myself from getting HIV?

Using condoms during sex is one of the best ways to prevent catching HIV. HarborCHC provides condoms for free to anyone, anytime. You should also never share injection equipment (needles) with anyone.

HarborCHC also offers prescriptions for PrEP, or pre-exposure prophylaxis. PrEP is available in pill form under either of the brand names Truvada or Descovy. Each brand should be taken by mouth once a day.

PrEP is available in a pill form that should be taken by mouth once a day.

Is PrEP right for me?

Pre-exposure prophylaxis is for HIV-negative people at risk for catching HIV through sex or injection drug use. One type of PrEP is for everyone, while another type is only for men and transgender women. Your care provider will help you decide which medication is right for you.

How effective is PrEP?

PrEP is between 92% and 99% effective, depending on the type of medication and how strictly you take it. Descovy is most effective after seven days of use.

Truvada is most effective after seven days of use for anal sex, after 21 days of use for vaginal sex and injection drug use. It is highly recommended to take PrEP daily as prescribed.

What are the side effects of PrEP?

The most common side effects of PrEP pills are diarrhea, nausea, headache, stomachache, and fatigue. These usually go away after a month of use.

If I start taking PrEP, can I stop using condoms?

No. Regular condom use is still recommended to prevent HIV and other STDs. PrEP does not prevent other STDs or pregnancy.

I think I may have been exposed to HIV. What do I do?

Contact your care provider immediately to get started on PEP, or post-exposure prophylactic medications, which prevent permanent HIV infection. PEP should be started as soon after exposure to HIV as possible, but cannot be started more than 72 hours after exposure.

How effective is PEP?

PEP is highly effective, but its effectiveness is lower the longer you wait. For this reason, if you suspect you have been exposed to HIV, call our HIV prevention specialist immediately for a same-day appointment. PEP is not effective if you don’t take the full dose of one pill a day for 28 days.

What are the side effects of PEP?

Not everyone experiences side effects, but the most common one is nausea.

Can I just use PEP every time I think I’ve been exposed to HIV?

No, PEP is intended only for emergency situations. If you are at risk, talk to your care provider about starting PrEP. HarborCHC’s HIV prevention specialist is usually able to get patients PrEP medication the same day.

What happens if I test positive for HIV?

Contact your care provider as soon as possible to start antiretroviral therapy. ART is a combination of medications that prevent HIV from multiplying in the body. ART helps HIV-positive people live long, healthy lives and prevents the spread of HIV to their sexual partners.

How will I pay for my medication?

Most insurance plans cover PrEP, PEP, and other HIV medications, and HarborCHC accepts several insurance plans. If you don’t have insurance, HarborCHC offers discounts based on household size and income. There are also a number of government programs and private organizations that provide payment assistance for HIV prevention and treatment. Our caring staff is happy to help you apply.

I’m HIV-positive. Can I get treatment at HarborCHC?

Not currently, but HarborCHC can refer HIV-positive patients to nearby specialty clinics for treatment within a few days.

Does HarborCHC only offer sexual health services?

Not at all! HarborCHC also offers primary care, chronic care management, dental services, behavioral health, substance use disorder services, obstetrics/gynecology, pediatrics, and more. We also connect patients in need with assistance like food banks and housing services.