I take PrEP to avoid HIV. That's what works for me.

PRE-EXPOSURE PROPHYLAXIS (PrEP)

What is PrEP?

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 infection including gay, bisexual and trans guys who have condomless sex, people who are in sero-discordant relationships or engage in intravenous drug use.

How does PrEP work?

PrEP prevents HIV by creating a biological barrier against HIV in your body. When taken as prescribed PrEP is a highly effective way of preventing HIV.

PrEP is appropriate for anyone at risk of HIV

Does PrEP have any side effects?

Research has shown that PrEP can negatively impact on some people’s kidneys and/or their bone density. When you are prescribed PrEP, your doctor will regularly check that you are not experiencing these side effects.

Other side effects can include nausea and headaches; however these usually subside within a week or so. If you experience side effects that do not resolve quickly, or are a concern to you then it is important to talk to your doctor. You can find out more about PrEP by watching the video below.

10 Things You Need to Know About PrEP

This video contains important information on PrEP including adherence, side effects and how to get started, and how to stop.


Starting PrEP Again

When COVID emerged it put a temporary pause on the sex we were having. Guys who were using PrEP to prevent HIV considered whether they needed to take it during lockdown because they stopped hooking up during that time. A recent study found that roughly 40% of guys who were using PrEP stopped taking it during lockdown - No sex means no need for PrEP.

Now we all can fuck however and whenever we like. Guys are starting to ask how they can get back onto PrEP and considering how PrEP works best for them.

This information will give you some helpful hints around starting PrEP and different ways that you can take it.

When thinking about how to start PrEP again, the first thing to consider is when was your last HIV and STI check-up? If you haven’t had one in the last 3 months, then you might want to pop into your GP clinic or sexual health centre and get that sorted.

Before heading to the doctors, check whether you have any pills left over and check if they have expired. Have they been kept away from heat and direct sunlight? If they haven’t then they may be damaged and not offer you protection against HIV. You should also check whether you still have an active script and whether it will expire soon. You may want to check in with your doctor before taking PrEP.

While you are there, you can chat with your doctor about starting PrEP again and how you might want to use it. You may have heard about taking PrEP daily, but you can also take PrEP On-Demand. On-Demand PrEP provides you with the same protection as daily PrEP – but you take it differently.

PrEP is a highly effective way of preventing HIV


What is On-Demand PrEP?

Whilst daily PrEP is the most common way PrEP is taken, there is another dosing option that still protects you against HIV, known as On-Demand. On-Demand PrEP is different from regular PrEP; it has a different dosing schedule.

On-Demand PrEP involves:

  • Taking two pills 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

On-Demand PrEP is different to daily PrEP, it has a different dosing schedule

It is really important to remember your dosing times, and if you have more sex on a day 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.

If planned and taken appropriately then this dosing strategy can protect you against HIV, however On-Demand PrEP has not been proven to work for vaginal or front-hole sex. It is only recommended for anal sex.

Is On-Demand PrEP right for me?

On-Demand PrEP is only recommended for:

- Cis-gendered guys who have sex with other guys, and you don’t have a chronic hepatitis B infection.

If this is you then there are a few questions that can help you identify if On-Demand is right for you.

Are you good at following schedules?

On-Demand requires that you stick to the dosing schedule closely. Any missed dose will mean that this type of prevention strategy may not work. If you are generally forgetful or have trouble keeping track of medicines you are prescribed, then maybe On-Demand may not be the best option for you. However, there are tips that you can use to remind you of when you need to take On-Demand PrEP.

Is cost a factor?

On-demand PrEP involves using fewer pills compared to daily PrEP, so it works out to be more affordable than paying to use medication every day. If you have Medicare, it costs no more than $41.00 for 30 pills, or $6.60 with a concession card. If you experiencing financial issues which may prevent you from accessing PrEP then head to PAN [hyperlinked] as they can help out.

How often are you having sex?

A common reason guys stop daily PrEP is related to not having enough sex to warrant using it. With on-demand PrEP, you can still benefit from powerful protection just for those times when you do have sex without having to use or pay for medication you don’t need. For anyone having sex twice a week or more, daily PrEP is the recommended option — you’ll be ready for action whenever it comes your way.

How comfortable are you with taking pills?

Not everyone’s comfortable using medication every day. On-demand PrEP might be more appealing because you decide when you want to use it and when you don’t. As long as you can plan ahead or delay sex for at least two hours while the medication gets to work in your body, on-demand PrEP can maximise your protection while minimising the amount of medication you use. If you’re comfortable taking one pill a day, then daily PrEP is a great choice.

To find out more about what is involved in taking On-Demand PrEP and whether it may work for you, please watch the video below.

What's on Demand PrEP?

This video is all about On-Demand PrEP including information on dosage


PrEP, Testing and STIs

Regardless of whether you are using daily or On-Demand PrEP, you still need to get tested for HIV and other STIs every 3 months. Getting tested regularly is an important part of taking PrEP and also taking care of your sexual health.

Remember, PrEP is only one way to prevent HIV and that it does not provide any protection against other STIs. If you decide to stop using condoms or reduce your condom use, then it is important to keep up regular sexual health testing so that if you do get an STI you can easily have it diagnosed and treated.


Where to go?

In Australia there are several options for accessing PrEP. For more information check out PrEP'D For Change or PAN, or check our resource page.

If you have questions about PrEP and want to speak with someone, you can call the HIV prevention information line on 1800 889 887 and speak with a registered sexual health nurse. They can answer any questions you may have.