After going through the 4 steps, it is time to take your first dose of PrEP. What an exciting moment!
You can read here how to use PrEP safely and responsibly.
People with a penis
- Take 2 pills the first time and from then on 1 pill every 24 hours. You are protected from HIV starting 2 hours after taking the first two pills.
- If you want to stop taking PrEP, keep taking pills every 24 hours until 48 hours after the last time you had sex. This means that you can also use PrEP periodically or ‘around sex’. It’s also possible to take only 1 pill on the first day, but then you are protected from HIV only after using PrEP for 5 days.
- If you start using PrEP again, use the same schedule. (That is: 2 pills on day one and then 1 pill every 24 hours, until 48 hours after the last time you had sex.)
- Advantage of taking PrEP every day:
the routine helps you to remember taking your pill, and you can have unplanned sex.
- Advantage of taking PrEP ‘around sex’:
if you do not have a lot of sex, or you know you can plan sex, you’re able to spend less money and you need to take less pills. Note: PrEP ‘around sex’ is not appropriate for people who sometimes (when drunk, for example) have unplanned sex without a condom.
People with a vagina
If you want to stop using PrEP, make sure to take the last pill 7 days after the last time you had sex.
If you start using PrEP again, follow the same schedule. (That is: take 1 pill for 7 days before sex and then daily until 7 days after the last time you had sex.)
Most people do not experience side effects from using PrEP
Some people experience one or more of the following symptoms immediately after starting PrEP: nausea, diarrhea, lively dreams, headaches, or fatigue.
After a few weeks of using PrEP, these symptoms disappear for part of these people. This is the case for daily use and also for use around sex. For some people, the symptoms persist, and this can be a reason to stop using PrEP.
Going for check-ups
IMPORTANT: NEVER USE PrEP IF YOU ARE NOT 100% SURE THAT YOU ARE HIV NEGATIVE
- Before starting PrEP, and a month after starting PrEP, you must get tested for:
· Kidney function
- Before starting PrEP, you must also get tested for:
· Hepatitis B
· Hepatitis C
- After starting PrEP you must get tested EVERY THREE MONTHS for:
· Kidney function
· Hepatitis C
To save cost, you can get tested for HIV, chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis and hepatitis B for free at your local GGD STI clinic, or you can arrange a test online via MantotMan Testlab.
Testing your kidney function and hepatitis C is usually only possible via your family doctor, and these two tests together will incur a charge of about €15,- on your deductible excess (“eigen risico”) every time you get tested.
Of course, it is possible to get tested at your family doctor’s office, but the cost for STD testing is charged on your deductible. All tests together will cost about €210,- every time. If you have already met your deductible, it does not matter where you get tested, since STD tests are then covered under Dutch health insurance.
You can read more about the reasons for each of the various tests under Frequently Asked Questions.
IMPORTANT: If you use PrEP, you need to get tested for HIV, kidney function, chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and hepatitis C EVERY 3 MONTHS.
TIP: Put the appointment in your calendar, write it on your bathroom mirror, stick a note on your fridge. Most doctors will not give you a new prescription if you did not get tested, so it is important that you really keep up with the tests and that you make a new appointment with your doctor in time.