Congratulations! You’re taking charge of your sexual health by preventing HIV and getting regular STI testing. Here’s a few things to know as you start your PrEP journey.
How quickly does PrEP start working?
Once you have started taking daily PrEP, it takes seven days for the drug to reach maximum levels in your rectal tissue. That means it will take one week to give you full protection for anal sex. It takes 21 days for PrEP to reach maximum levels in vaginal tissue. If you have a vagina, that means it will take three weeks to give you full protection for vaginal sex.
Do I need to take PrEP every day?
Yes. To reach maximum protection PrEP needs to be taken daily, and this is what we clinically recommend. You should aim to take PrEP around the same time each day, so you could try incorporating it into another daily habit (like when you brush your teeth or eat breakfast) to remind you. This is called habit stacking.
What side effects could I have?
PrEP is generally well-tolerated. Some people may experience side effects when they start, like headaches, fatigue, nausea, stomach pain or diarrhea. These are often mild and will pass in a few weeks. If they persist, then book an appointment with your Freddie clinician.
In a small number of people, Truvada (and generic versions) can affect your kidney function. This is why you get your blood taken before starting PrEP and every three months, to make sure your kidneys are ok. If your kidneys are affected, then no need to worry – it’s reversible once you stop taking the medication.
How long do I need to be on PrEP?
You can stay on PrEP for as long as you’d like protection against HIV. This may change depending on your circumstances. It can be anything from a few months to a few years. It’s entirely up to you!
If you stop taking PrEP, you will no longer be protected against HIV. If you’d like to stop PrEP then talk to your Freddie clinician and they can guide you through the process.