Starting and Stopping PrEP

Starting and Stopping PrEP
How can I start PrEP?

doctor holding a chart

Talk to your health care provider if you think PrEP may be right for you. PrEP can be prescribed only by a health care provider.

  • 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 every 3 months for
    • follow-up visits,
    • HIV tests, and
    • prescription refills.
  • Ask your health care provider about self-testing and telehealth services for follow-up visits.

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

Yes. With telemedicine (phone or video consultation with a health care provider) and mail-in self-testing, it is possible to order a specimen collection kit which contains the supplies to do all the testing required to start or continue taking PrEP, even if an in-person appointment is not possible. Contact your health care provider to see what options are available to you. You can also locate a PrEP providerexternal icon online.

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 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).