Starting and Stopping PrEP

Starting and Stopping PrEP
How can I start PrEP?

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Talk to your health care provider if you think PrEP may be right for you. PrEP can be prescribed by any health care provider who is licensed to write prescriptions.

Before beginning PrEP, you must take an HIV test to make sure you don’t have HIV.

  • While taking PrEP, you’ll have to visit your health care provider routinely as recommended for
    • follow-up visits,
    • HIV tests, and
    • prescription refills or shots.
  • Ask your health care provider about mail-in HIV tests and telehealth services for follow-up visits.

If you don’t have a health care provider, you can use the HIV prevention services locator to find a PrEP provider near you.

Can I start PrEP or continue taking PrEP without in-person visits to a provider?

With telehealth (phone or video consultation with a health care provider) and mail-in HIV tests, it is possible to order a specimen collection kit which contains the supplies to do the testing required to start or continue taking PrEP pills, even if an in-person appointment is not possible. If you are receiving PrEP shots, you’ll need to visit your health care provider for your shot.

What if I need to stop taking PrEP?

There are several reasons why people stop taking PrEP:

  • Your risk of getting HIV becomes low because of changes in your life.
  • You don’t want to take a pill as prescribed or often forget to take your pills.
  • You can’t visit your health care provider to receive your shots routinely as recommended.
  • You have side effects from the medicine that are interfering with your life.
  • Blood tests show that your body is reacting to PrEP in unsafe ways.

Talk to your health care provider about other HIV prevention methods that may work better for you.

If I stopped taking PrEP, how do I start taking it again?

Tell your health care provider that you would like to start taking PrEP again. You will need to take an HIV test before you start PrEP to make sure you don’t have HIV.

Can I take PrEP just once, if I think I might have recently been exposed to HIV?

  • PrEP is for people who are at ongoing risk for HIV.
  • PrEP is not the right choice for people who may have been exposed to HIV in the last 72 hours.
  • If you may have been exposed to HIV in the last 72 hours, talk to your health care provider, an emergency room doctor, or an urgent care provider about PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis).