COVID-19 tips & tricks

← See all COVID-19 tips & tricks

Stopping and starting PrEP

Current guidance in the UK, and many other parts of the world, ask us to stay away from other people as much as possible. This means that in-person casual sex hook-ups are discouraged.

Some of us who use PrEP are deciding to take a break from using it for the time being, if we’re not planning to have sex. If you’re thinking of stopping PrEP for a while, see the tips below. And then read the ones for starting again, so you’re prepared!


Stopping PrEP

If you’re a cis man, carry on taking PrEP for another two sex-free days (so if you last had sex on Saturday, take PrEP on Sunday and Monday). It’s then safer to stop.

For anyone else, keep taking PrEP for seven sex-free days. This includes when PrEP is taken for vaginal/frontal protection. It’s then safe to stop.

Re-starting PrEP

If you’ve not had sex since stopping PrEP, then it’s OK to start PrEP as usual.

If you’re a cis man, and want to have sex straight away, you can take a DOUBLE dose of PrEP (i.e. two tablets) 2 to 24 hours BEFORE sex. You can then continue with either daily dosing or event based PrEP. It’s really important to take the AFTER sex doses!

For everyone else – take a daily dose of PrEP for seven days BEFORE starting to have sex. This includes for vaginal/frontal protection. You can then continue with DAILY dosing. It’s really important to take the AFTER sex doses!

If you’ve had sex SINCE stopping PrEP, and that sex involved a possible exposure to HIV, it’s strongly recommended to have an HIV test BEFORE re-starting PrEP. Information on the process to follow is here.

Changing from daily dosing to event based PrEP (EBP)

If, an opportunity arises to have sex after stopping daily PrEP, then event based PrEP is an option for some people.

EBP has only been studied in cis men who have sex with other men – and so it is NOT recommended for other people as an option. EBP is NOT recommended for vaginal/frontal protection.

EBP has only been studied in TDF/FTC (Truvada and its generic equivalents). It has not been studied in TAF/FTC (Descovy and its generic equivalents). If you currently use Descovy, only daily dosing is recommended.

Find out how more about EBP here.

There’s also information about stopping and starting PrEP here.