We've got answers.

Have questions about PrEP?

Before I start taking PrEP:

If I start PrEP, do I have to stay on it forever?

No. If you start taking PrEP, you can stay on it for as long as you want the protection against HIV, and you can stop at any time. It is not uncommon for people to stop taking PrEP and then start taking it again later due to shifting life circumstances like relationship status and levels of sexual activity. 

How long do I have to take PrEP before it “works”?

Taking PrEP properly offers you up to 99% protection against HIV. The exact time from starting daily oral PrEP to maximal protection against HIV infection is unknown. To reach the 99% level of protection for anal sex, experts recommend that you take PrEP for 7 days and then continue taking it every day. To reach the 99% level of protection for vaginal sex, experts recommend that you take PrEP for 21 days and then continue taking it every day. If you are a transgender, non-binary, or gender non-conforming person, you should follow the recommendation for the sex you were assigned at birth. 

How long will PrEP keep “working” if I stop taking it?

Protection from acquiring HIV infection will decline over 7-10 days after stopping daily PrEP use. Because some people have acquired HIV infection soon after stopping PrEP, alternative methods to reduce risk for HIV acquisition should be used. A cautious and simple answer would be to continue taking PrEP for 28 days after your last possible exposure to HIV. Experts suggest to continue taking PrEP for 2-28 days after your last possible exposure to HIV. Taking a more conservative approach may be important if you missed doses regularly while on PrEP.

Can I still get HIV if I’m on PrEP?

Protection from acquiring HIV infection will decline over 7-10 days after stopping daily PrEP use. Because some people have acquired HIV infection soon after stopping PrEP, alternative methods to reduce risk for HIV acquisition should be used. A cautious and simple answer would be to continue taking PrEP for 28 days after your last possible exposure to HIV. Experts suggest to continue taking PrEP for 2-28 days after your last possible exposure to HIV. Taking a more conservative approach may be important if you missed doses regularly while on PrEP.

Who is PrEP intended for and why? I sometimes feel like I’m being “targeted” to take PrEP. 

PrEP is intended for anyone who wants to reduce their risk of getting HIV, and PrEP can be taken by anyone who is not living with HIV, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. People who are more vulnerable to HIV, such as men who have sex with men, people who inject drugs, or people with many sex partners may especially want to consider PrEP as an option to protect themselves. 

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AntiViral Research Center

at UC San Diego School of Medicine