Word of the Week: Prophylaxis

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Each week, Verywell explains a term from health, medicine, science, or technology.

Word of the Week: Prophylaxis

How to say itProphylaxis (pro-fee-LAX-sis)

What it means: A preventive treatment

Where it comes from: From Greek, prophylak, "to guard"

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Where you might see or hear it: Antibiotics are sometimes given before surgeries or procedures to help prevent infection. These are called prophylactic antibiotics. Dentists may prescribe antibiotics before oral surgery.

When you might want to use it: If you are at risk for HIV, you might be familiar with Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PReP). You may explain to a partner that taking PReP helps protect you from getting HIV if you are exposed (the "prophylaxis" part of the treatment's name refers to its ability to prevent HIV).