Please talk to a health advisor, nurse or doctor at the clinic. They can help you if you are planning to take, or are already taking PrEP.
It is really important to have an HIV test before or as you start.
PrEP can only be used if you are HIV negative. If you are already HIV positive and don’t realise it, you could develop resistance to drugs that you will need for treatment.
Ask for a ‘4th generation’ HIV blood test. This is also called a ‘combined antigen/antibody’ test. This tells you your HIV status approximately 4 weeks ago. Most finger prick tests are currently ‘3rd generation’. They tell you your HIV status approximately 3 months ago. So don’t rely on a fingerprick test alone before you start PrEP.
If you are just starting PrEP and had a risk in the last 4 weeks, have another 4th generation HIV blood test 4 weeks after starting, just to be sure an early infection was not missed. Don’t start PrEP if you have flu-like symptoms and a recent HIV risk. This is to check that these symptoms are not related to a recent HIV infection (ie seroconversion).
If you are starting PrEP after PEP, it is best to start immediately if you have ongoing risks. Ideally you should have an HIV blood test around the time you finish PEP/start PrEP plus another HIV blood test 4 weeks into PrEP.
Remember that unprotected sex while taking PrEP will reduce your risk of HIV but not other STIs, use condoms to reduce your risk of other STIs.
You will also need to have your kidney function checked. Kidney monitoring just involves a blood test for creatinine, and a urine test for protein. These should ideally be done just before or on the day you start.
You will need to be tested for Hepatitis B as PrEP is also active against the Hepatitis B virus.