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How to Take PrEP Properly?

If you have a high risk of developing HIV, using PrEP can be a good choice. PrEP therapy choices are more plentiful than ever today. How you take PrEP is entirely up to you. Although PrEP offers flexible dose options, many users opt to take it every day.

In general, the best course of action for effectiveness is to take PrEP every day, seven days a week. Try to take it at the same time every day for the best results. You can also take it with or without food, but for best results, you should adhere to your doctor’s recommendations.

Continue reading for additional details on how to take PrEP correctly.

Ways to take PrEP

Daily PrEP dosage

PrEP is regarded as a daily HIV preventative medication. Truvada and Descovy are two PrEP drugs that are readily available. While Descovy contains tenofovir alafenamide (TAF) and emtricitabine, Truvada contains tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (TDF) and emtricitabine (FTC). Both drugs are recognized as effective PrEP therapies, while Descovy is a more recent medicine with marginally higher efficacy. However, both medications work similarly and might be found in generic form.

Who would need to take PrEP?

If you are HIV negative and any of the following apply to you, PrEP may be the best choice for you:

  • You engage in anal or vaginal sex with an HIV-positive partner.
  • Without using a condom, you frequently engage in anal or vaginal sex
  • You had an STD within the previous six months.
  • You inject drugs or are sexually involved with an HIV-positive injectable drug user.
  • You exchange syringes, needles, or any other supplies used for injectable drugs with other people.
  • PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) was previously recommended to you numerous times.
  • You carry on with your risky habits after completing a PEP course.
  • Your spouse has HIV and you are pregnant.

Who should avoid using PrEP?

If you fit any of the following descriptions, you should avoid using PrEP:

  • You’ve had an HIV test that’s positive.
  • You have specific kidney issues.
  • You’re not yet prepared to commit to routinely taking your medication each day.

PrEP should be taken every day at the same time, with or without food. Using an alarm or pillbox is one of the best methods to take your PrEP at the same time each day. These tools can also help you keep track of your doses and prevent missing or skipping a dose. One of the best ways to ensure optimal protection is to take PrEP every day.

Alcohol and PrEP

The medication for PrEP does not directly interact with alcohol. The risk of drinking alcohol while taking PrEP is that it may increase your likelihood of forgetting your medication. Missing doses can make you more likely to contract HIV. It is not advised to drink heavily while on PrEP treatment because of this. However, it should be fine to consume alcohol in moderation.

PrEP and other drugs

It’s vital to let your doctor know about any additional prescription, over-the-counter, or herbal supplements you may be taking. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs), including diclofenac, naproxen, and ibuprofen, may interact with PrEP. Combining these medications may raise the risk of kidney issues while taking PrEP. For information on additional potential drug interactions, you might wish to speak with your doctor or pharmacist.

After exposure, PrEP

If you anticipate being at a high risk of contracting HIV, you should use PrEP. It serves as a prophylactic form of treatment to ward off HIV infection. It differs from PEP, which is administered following a possible HIV encounter. When initiated within 72 hours of exposure, PEP is most effective. It may be advised for you to take certain antiviral medications for 28 days if you have been exposed to HIV. If you believe your risk of contracting HIV will be high after completing a PEP course, you can switch to PrEP.

Taking PrEP daily versus every other day

Men who take at least four daily doses of PrEP every week may be well protected against contracting HIV, according to studies. When taken every other day, or at least four days a week, PrEP blood levels have been determined to be high enough to be protective. This research, however, exclusively focused on men having sex with other men. In women and transgender males, taking PrEP every other day or four days a week could not be as beneficial. To get optimum protection, daily PrEP dosing is suggested.

Should I take the PrEP at night or in the morning?

You can take PrEP in the morning or at night. The ideal moment to take it is not predetermined. If you take it at the same time every day, you can adjust it to fit your schedule. To incorporate it into your regular routine, you could decide to take it before breakfast or right before bed.

How can I take PrEP when needed?

On-demand PrEP, also known as event-based PrEP, is an alternative HIV prevention method. As one might anticipate, event-based PrEP is taken prior to an anticipated sex event. If you can forecast when you will have sex or have sex less frequently than a few times per week, you can take this sort of PrEP dosage. It’s an easy method to use PrEP without having to take it every day. Since you only need to take a small amount of PrEP during sex, you can also reduce your spending.

Take PrEP when needed

Event-based PrEP must be taken exactly as prescribed without skipping a dose. For cisgender guys who have intercourse with other men, this form of PrEP dose plan is currently the only one that is advised. Typically, it is not advised for transgender or female users.

The dosage for event-based PrEP is as follows:

  • Between two and twenty-four hours prior to sex, take two pills (at the same time) as your initial loading dose.
  • 24 hours following the loading dose, take one pill in a single dose.
  • Retake the medication 24 hours after the last dosage

Event-based PrEP is often referred to as the 2-1-1 approach.

You can take one pill for each day that you have sex following the initial loading dose if you plan to engage in sexual activity for a number of days. Just keep in mind that you should only take one dose for two days after your last sexual experience.

Other methods to consume pills for PrEP

Periodically taking PrEP

Going on a weeklong trip or a long weekend getaway? Or perhaps you’ve got a tonne of events planned for the spring or summer? Not to worry. You are able to use PrEP for a long time. You can take PrEP if you wish to protect yourself for a certain amount of time, similar to PrEP on demand. You may be worried about the price and adverse consequences of long-term PrEP use. Thankfully, periodic PrEP is an effective technique to gradually increase daily PrEP dosage if necessary.

Guidelines for the dosage of periodic PrEP

Here is a recommendation for periodic PrEP. For cisgender guys who engage in male sex:

  • Between two and twenty-four hours prior to sex, take two pills (at the same time) as your initial loading dose.
  • After taking the loading dose, take one pill once, then every day while having sex, take one pill once every 24 hours.
  • Take one dose each day for two days following your most recent sexual encounter.

For others, including transgender individuals who engage in male-to-male sexual relations:

  • Take one pill daily for seven days prior to having intercourse.
  • Take one pill daily for 28 days after your last sexual encounter.

Depending on your circumstances, you should make sure you have enough PrEP on hand to last for every day you plan to have sex. If you don’t have enough PrEP to protect you, it will ruin your planning.

What if I forgot to take a PrEP dose?

Missing one dose is typically not a big deal if you’ve been consistently taking PrEP every day. Do not forget to take your medication as soon as you recall. To make up for a missing dose, avoid taking two pills at once.

In other words, these men can still be protected when taking PrEP for 4 days a week even if they miss up to three doses per week. More than one dose per week shouldn’t be missed by women. Women who take PrEP six to seven days a week see the greatest benefits.

How long does PrEP take to start working?

For those who have had anal intercourse, it can take up to 7 days for PrEP to start working completely. It takes 21 days for PrEP to take full effect for those who use intravenous drugs or have vaginal sex. Compared to the anal tissue, the vaginal tissue can take longer for PrEP to become available and absorb it. After the stipulated time, you should continue using condoms until you are completely protected with PrEP.

How long must you take PrEP?

For as long as you could be exposed to HIV, you should use PrEP. You should continue taking PrEP every day if you engage in heterosexual sex, don’t use condoms, or regularly use injectable medicines yourself or with your partner.

Depending on your personal circumstances, you can decide to stop using PrEP at any moment. For instance, you can stop taking PrEP if you think you won’t engage in activities that raise your risk of contracting HIV any longer. However, if you’re having high-risk anal or vaginal sex and you believe you’ll be exposed to HIV again, you should wear condoms. Or, you might think about starting PrEP again. Just keep in mind that PrEP isn’t active in anal or vaginal tissue until 7 days and 21 days, respectively, after resuming therapy.

Changing PrEP doses

PrEP is a versatile medication that can be used in a variety of ways. Depending on your HIV risk, you can vary between different PrEP dose strategies as often as necessary. If you’ve completed a PEP course, you are eligible to use PrEP if you will frequently be exposed to HIV. If you believe you might be exposed to HIV frequently, you can also begin taking PrEP medication after experimenting with event-based or periodic PrEP dosing regimens. The best course of action for you can be determined by speaking with a healthcare professional.

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