What is PrEP?
Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis or PrEP, is the use of medication that HIV-negative individuals take to prevent them from becoming HIV-positive. PrEP is appropriate for anyone at risk of HIV including gay, bisexual and trans guys.
How does PrEP work?
PrEP prevents HIV by creating a barrier inside your body that protects against the virus. Just as condoms prevent fluid from entering your body, PrEP creates one inside your body. When taken as prescribed, PrEP is a highly effective way of preventing HIV.
If you are taking PrEP you will need to get a sexual health check every 3 months. Your doctor will tell you what is involved and why they do this.
Does PrEP have any side effects?
Research has shown that PrEP can sometimes cause some negative side effects, such as feeling like you might be sick or having minor headaches. These side effects are not very common, and usually go away in a few days.
PrEP can have an impact on your kidneys so you should chat with your doctor about this before you start. This usually is only for people who have problems with their kidneys already. When you are prescribed PrEP, your doctor will regularly check that you are not experiencing these side effects.
How do I use it?
There are different options for how to use PrEP, so it’s important to choose the right one for you.
Daily PrEP involves taking the medication every single day and provides you with protection all day, every day. Whilst daily PrEP is the most common way PrEP is taken, there is another way to take it that can still protect you against HIV, known as On-Demand.
On-Demand PrEP is when you only take the medication when you are planning on having sex, and it provides you with protection during this time only.
10 Things You Need to Know About PrEP
What is On-Demand PrEP?
On-Demand PrEP is different to daily PrEP as you take it when you are planning on having sex.
On-Demand PrEP involves:
- Taking two pills (a double dose) 2-24 hours before sex; then
- Taking one more pill 24 hours after the first double dose; then
- Taking one final pill 24 hours after the second dose
It is really important to remember your dosing times (also known as when you take the medication), and if you have more sex on any of the days during the time period that you are using On-Demand PrEP, then you need to keep taking a pill each day, and then for two days after the last time you have sex.
On-Demand PrEP is only recommended for cis-gendered guys, it is not recommended for trans guys, heterosexual women and men, or people who inject drugs. To find out more about what is involved in On-Demand PrEP and whether it may work for you, please watch the video below.