(Caring & Treating Since 2005)
HIV Pre Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP)
What is HIV PrEP (Pre Exposure Prophylaxis)
HIV PrEP is an extremely effective way of protecting yourself from HIV. It is currently one of the pillars in our efforts to end the HIV epidemic in the world.
HIV PrEP can be taken in several different ways depending on your unique lifestyle. The most common and effective way is to take it at around the same time every day. In medical studies, this has been shown to provide the best level of protection against HIV. Also, this schedule is easy to remember and adhere to thereby reducing the chance of consuming the wrong amount of medicine at the wrong time. The medicine currently recommended for HIV PrEP has also shown to be safe for long-term use and rarely causes any significant side effects. In fact, it is said that HIV PrEP medicine is as safe as aspirin.
Who can take HIV PrEP?
HIV PrEP is only for individuals who belong to HIV high-risk group and their HIV status is negative.
HIV High-Risk Group:
- Who has an HIV-positive partner
- Who has multiple partners, a partner with multiple partners, or a partner whose HIV status is unknown and do not practice safe sex
- Who has sex without a condom
- Who has recently had sexually transmitted disease (STD)
How to Take HIV PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis)?
1.) Daily PrEP
Daily PrEP Regimen:
- Lead in time 7 days.
- Taken daily at the same time +/- a few hours ok
- Anal, Vaginal/Frontal sex
- Can be taken anytime of the day with or without food
- In the event a pill is missed, adequate protection is still conferred.
2.) On Demand PrEP (Event Based Dosing)
On-Demand PrEP Regimen:
- Planned condomless sex 24 hours in advance:
- take 2 pills 2 – 24 hours before sex
- take 1 pill 24 hours later
- take 1 more pill 24 hours after that
- If having sex for an extended period of time, perhaps over a few days or a weekend, continue to take a pill every 24 hours until you have 2 sex-free days.
- Only for Anal sex and NOT for Vaginal/Frontal sex
- This option is not recommended if you have an active hepatitis B infection. The drugs in PrEP also suppress the hepatitis B virus and so starting and stopping HIV PrEP can cause viral flare-ups and liver inflammation.
3.) Ts and Ss (Tues, Thurs, Sat, Sun dosing)
Ts and Ss Regimen:
- Daily dosing for 7 days,
- then dropping down to 4 pills per week on Tues/Thurs/Sat/Sun
- Only for Anal sex NOT for Vaginal/Frontal sex
- If you only have sex once or twice a month, you might not want to take a pill every day.
- 4 pills per week will maintain a good baseline of the drug in your system and you can choose to increase up to daily 7 pills per week when you know you’re in a more sexually active period.
- Some people using PrEP On Demand find that they might be taking 4 pills per week most weeks of the month and so opt for structuring this into the Ts and Ss instead.
4.) Hoilday PrEP
Holiday PrEP Regimen:
- PrEP before a pre-planned block of time when your risk of exposure to HIV will be higher due to:
- an increased number of partners of unknown HIV status
- situations where condoms are not easily or always used
- where alcohol or substances might be used
- having sex while travelling to a country with a high HIV prevalence
- Based on a 7-day period we recommend 7-7-7:
- 7 days daily dosing before the period
- 7 days daily dosing during the period (or for as long as the specific period lasts)
- 7 days daily dosing after the period.
- Anal, Vaginal/Frontal sex
- 7 days of PrEP before and after your last sexual encounter for several reasons:
- 7 days lead-in provides adequate levels for both anal and vaginal or frontal sex.
- 7 days lead in before the holiday or travel will allow the body to adjust to any possible side effects, most people do not experience any and these should have subsided within a week.
What is Event Based Dosing?
HIV PrEP is the so-called “Event Based PrEP.” This regime is for people who decided that they do not want to take HIV PrEP daily and only want to take it prior to an event.
The regime requires the patient to take 2 tablets of the HIV PrEP medicine between 2 to 24 hours prior to the event followed by 1 tablet 24 hours after the initial dose and a final tablet 48 hours after the initial dose. Medical studies show that the protection provided against HIV for this regime is not as good as if the medicine is taken daily.
Furthermore, thus the regime is more complex and therefore increases the risk of the patient taking the wrong amount of medicine at the wrong time.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on HIV PrEP
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HIV PrEP should not be seen as the magic pill that provides a magic shield against HIV. It is just one more effective tool we have to reduce the risk of HIV infection.
Furthermore, HIV PrEP does not protect the user against other STDs. Therefore, even if you are on HIV PrEP, the correct thing to do is still to use a condom. And also to get your regular STD screening & HIV Testing.