Guides

Before you start

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

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 drug resistance.

Ask for a 4th-generation HIV blood test. This is also called a ‘antigen/antibody’ test. This will tell you if you have HIV so long as you haven’t had other risks in the last four weeks.

Most finger prick tests are currently ‘3rd generation’. This test needs 2-3 months to show a positive result. 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 test four weeks after starting. This is 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 in case these symptoms are related to a recent HIV infection.

If you are starting PrEP after PEP, it is best to start straight away if you need to. Ideally you should have a 4th generation HIV test after you finish PEP/start PrEP. Then have another test four weeks after starting PrEP.

Check your kidneys

Kidney tests just involve a blood test for creatinine and a urine test for protein. These tests should ideally be done just before or on the day you start.

Check for other sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

Testing for HIV and STIs is 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.

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: 18 March 2019.