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Starting and stopping PrEP?

Dr. David: Once I start PrEP, does that mean I have to be on it for the rest of my life?
Got questions about PrEP? #AskTheHIVDoc has all the answers.
PrEP was not meant for something that you had to take for the rest of your life once you started. And there are situations where you can stop it and then start it again. There are some times when you’re very sexually active and then there’s some times when you’re not as sexually active. The key thing is that when you start to consider whether you want to start or stop PrEP have that conversation with your medical provider. Make sure you discuss with them what’s going on, what’s your concern with being at risk, what things you’re going to be doing, what other forms of HIV prevention you’re going to be using, and then move forward from there. So if you’ve stopped it you want to actually start to take it for about a week before you resume sexual activity to make sure that it’s at its most effective. So have the conversation with your provider and then make the decision from there.

PrEP is a once-a-day pill for people who do not have HIV and want added protection. When taken as prescribed, PrEP is highly effective in protecting against getting HIV. However, timing is everything. Taking PrEP may make more sense during some times in your life than others. If you have questions about starting and then stopping PrEP, check out this series from Greater Than AIDS featuring Dr. David, who provides important answers to common questions.

Starting and stopping PrEP: What are the facts?

Starting PrEP doesn’t mean you have to stay on it for the rest of your life. You can go on and off PrEP depending on what’s going on in your life, but you should do so under the guidance of a healthcare provider. Consider the following questions when you discuss stopping PrEP with your healthcare provider:

  • What major changes have occurred in your life?
  • What are your concerns with being at risk when stopping PrEP?
  • What other forms of HIV prevention will you be using?

If you stop taking PrEP and then want to re-start, you’ll need to get tested first to make sure you don’t have HIV. Also, remember, that it will take some time for the pill to reach maximum effectiveness, at least seven days for men who have sex with men.

Learn more about PrEP, find out if PrEP is right for you, and find a PrEP-friendly provider near you.

#AskTheHIVDoc is a video series from Greater Than AIDS featuring top HIV doctors providing answers to commonly-asked questions about HIV prevention, testing and treatment.

This information is shared for educational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice. The views expressed are those of the featured medical professional and reflect information available to that professional at time of filming. Always consult a health care provider for any personal health decision.

While we make every effort to keep the medical information on our website updated, we cannot guarantee that the information reflects the most up-to-date research. Also, please note the views expressed by individuals who appear in Greater Than AIDS videos and other content are their own and are not made on behalf of any groups/organizations/associations.