There are two regimens of PrEP dosing – daily PrEP and on-demand PrEP. Daily PrEP is taken anytime in the day, either with or without food. It takes 7 days for one to be conferred adequate protection. Side effects include diarrhoea, nausea, and fatigue.
Additionally, there is also “on-demand PrEP,” which means that one can only take these drugs when expecting HIV exposure, and there is no need to take pills daily. For example, there is a “2-1-1” schedule. It means taking 2 pills within 24 hours before unprotected sex, followed by one pill each day for the next two days. “On-demand PrEP” has been shown to be effective for Anal sex but more studies are required to show effectiveness in vaginal sex. Medical studies show that the protection provided against HIV for on-demand PrEP is not as good as daily PrEP .
HIV PrEP and disease prevention
Although on-demand PrEP may work in most cases, it is less effective than daily use tablets. Hence, for those at a high risk of contracting the infection, experts recommend using one tablet a day. These tablets are pretty safe and effective.
Although those with HIV can live close to normal life, no known medication can completely eradicate the infection from the body. It means that once infected, and one must take HIV medications lifelong and live with certain health issues. That is why protecting oneself from HIV is so important.
Another thing worth understanding is that although PrEP is a highly effective way to protect from infection, it does not give 100% protection. Thus, along with tablets, one should continue taking other protective measures like:
- Using protection regularly and correctly
- Frequently screening for HIV infection
- Choosing less risky behaviour
- Avoiding sharing contaminated syringes
Additionally, one must understand that PrEP is not a panacea and only protects from HIV infection. However, PrEP cannot protect from other STDs like HPV, hepatitis B, C, gonorrhoea, etc.
HIV PrEP is recommended for HIV-negative individuals who belong to a high-risk group for HIV infection.
HIV High-Risk Groups:
- Someone who has an HIV-positive partner
- Someone who has multiple sex partners, a partner with multiple partners, or a partner whose HIV status is unknown and does not practice safe sex
- Someone who has sex with commercial sex workers
- Someone who has recently had a sexually transmitted disease (STD)
- Someone who injects drugs, or has unprotected sex with someone who injects drugs