Before you start

First, please talk to a health advisor, nurse or doctor at the clinic. These people can help you if you are planning to take, or are already taking PrEP.

It is important to have an HIV test before or as you start PrEP.

PrEP can only be used if you are HIV negative. If you are already HIV positive and don’t realise it, you could develop resistance to drugs that you will need for treatment.

Ask for a ‘4th generation’ HIV blood test. This is also called a ‘antigen/antibody’ test. This tells you your HIV status roughly four weeks ago.

Most finger prick tests are currently ‘3rd generation’. They tell you your HIV status 2-3 months ago. So don’t rely on a finger prick test before you start PrEP, if you have a more recent risk.

If you are just starting PrEP and had a risk in the last four weeks, have another 4th generation HIV blood test four weeks after starting, just to be sure an early infection was not missed.

Be careful about starting PrEP if you have flu-like symptoms and had a recent HIV risk. This is because these symptoms might be related to a recent HIV infection (ie seroconversion).

If you are starting PrEP after PEP, it is best to start straight away if you need to. Ideally you should have an HIV blood test around the time you finish PEP/start PrEP and another HIV blood test four weeks into PrEP.

Check your kidneys

Kidney monitoring just involves a blood test for creatinine, and sometimes a urine test for protein. These should ideally be done just before or on the day you start.

Check for other sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

HIV and STI screens are a great idea for anyone with an active sex life… whether you use PrEP or not.

Test for hepatitis B (HBV)

Testing for hep B is essential because PrEP medicines are active against both HIV and HBV.

This is a good time to have this vaccine, or to boost a previous vaccine. Although vaccine shortages in 2017 might mean you might need to wait, please still ask your clinic about this.

You can still use PrEP if you have HBV, but it needs to be used more carefully. People with HBV need to take PrEP every day, with medical advice, especially if you want to stop.

Last updated: 4 September 2017.