PrEP is one of those medications that demands you take it correctly. It’s really important you follow the recommended guidelines to stay protected against HIV. Any deviation, and you’re putting your health at risk. There’s some misinformation out there about the different ways to take PrEP, so let’s break it down. (You may have heard of different types of PrEP – it’s all the same medication, the only difference is how you take it.)
This is the most common way to take PrEP. PrEP Daily means you take 1 pill, once a day, every day (ideally at approximately the same time every day) – it’s that simple. But if you forget to take a tablet for one day, there is no need to take two tablets the next day.
Cis-gender men who have sex with men can start with a single loading dose of two PrEP tablets at least 2 hours prior to sex to ensure immediate protection from PrEP Daily. But as the effectiveness of this is yet to be determined in all other populations at risk of HIV infection, all others must take 7 days of daily dosing before they are considered protected.
Taking PrEP Daily means you are always protected from HIV, no matter how much sex you’re having, or when you’re having it. PrEP Daily leaves nothing to chance.
We want to clear something up here, as the name is a little misleading. PrEP On-Demand does not mean you take one pill, ‘on-demand’ before sexual activity, and you’re covered. It’s a lot more complicated than that. And currently PrEP On-Demand is recommended only for cis-gender men who have sex with men, because its effectiveness is yet to be determined in all other populations at risk of HIV infection. People with chronic hepatitis B infection are also not allowed to take PrEP On-Demand because the regimen can lead to resistance to your hepatitis B antiviral drugs.
This is the correct and only way to take PrEP On-Demand and be protected against HIV:
Take 2 pills 2-24 hours before sex
Take 1 pill 24 hours after the first dose
Take 1 pill 24 hours after the second dose.
If more sex acts take place over the following days, a single PrEP pill can be continued daily for as long as sex continues, with a single daily pill taken for each of two days after the last sex act.
See? It takes some real commitment to get it right. If PrEP On-Demand is not taken in this prescribed way, you’re not protected against HIV.