Tips for PrEP users - What else do you need to know about PrEP?
Tips for PrEP users by PULSE clinics, famous for its friendly humanized non-stigmatizing personable services.
Tips for PrEP users - What else do you need to know about PrEP?
If you’ve been prescribed PrEP, here are some important things to know. This info doesn’t replace your PrEP provider though, so if you have specific medical concerns you should ask your doctor. If you’re interested in starting PrEP or have other sexual health questions or needs, BOOK APPOINTMENT AND TALK TO US.
- Store the bottle at room temperature. Do not keep the bottle in a hot car or refrigerator.
- Do not share your Truvada with others. It may seem like a generous thing to do, but could actually cause harm. Truvada PrEP is not safe for everyone. (Another reason why seeing our PrEP provider regularly is important!)
How To Take PrEP?
- There are 30 pills of Truvada in each bottle, to be used over 30 consecutive days of PrEP.
- Take 1 pill every day. Taking more than 1 pill a day could be harmful.
- It’s OK to take this medication if you drink alcohol or use drugs.
- It’s OK to take this medication with or without food.
- For those engaging in anal sex, it takes a week of continuously taking PrEP before there is enough medication in your body to decrease your chance of getting HIV.
- For those engaging in vaginal sex, it takes 30 days before there is enough medication in your body for vaginal exposure.
- Get into a routine to remember every dose
- Do these to help you remember to take your pill everyday:
- Keep your medication bottle somewhere visible, like near your toothbrush or in the kitchen;
- Take the pill at the same time you do something else you do every day, like eat breakfast or brush your teeth; and,
- Keep an extra pill with you for times when you’re not home when it’s time to take your dose, or if there’s a chance you might stay over at someone else’s place.
HOW TO TAKE PREP 2-1-1
- Only Truvada has been studied as 2-1-1, so do not use this dosing strategy with Descovy until we know more about it.
- Take two pills at least two hours before having sex.
- Take one pill 24 hours later.
- Take one more pill 24 hours after that.
- If you’re having sex for an extended amount of time, continue to take a pill every 24 hours until you have two days without sex.
- This way of taking PrEP is only recommended for people having anal sex, not people having vaginal or front hole sex.
- Remember: Don’t pick and choose when to use the dosing strategy based on your perception of your partner’s HIV status, because you may not be correct 100% of the time.
If You Miss A Dose
People sometimes forget or skip doses. If you forget to take a pill, just take it when you remember. For example:
If you usually take a pill in the morning but realize at 10pm that you forgot to take a dose, it’s OK to take 1 pill at night and then continue with your usual morning dose the next day.
Potential Side Effects
Some people get side effects when taking PrEP. Symptoms are usually mild and go away after the first month on PrEP. You might experience gas, bloating, softer/more frequent stools, or nausea. If you experience symptoms related to your stomach, here are some things to try:
- Take your pill with food; or
- Take your pill at night before you go to sleep.
If you have side effects and are getting PrEP from our PrEP Clinic, contact us. We can help.
Discussing PrEP With Others
People sometimes find it helpful to tell friends or family that they are taking PrEP. Think carefully about who you want to tell about your PrEP use—you’ll want them to be supportive of your decision. Taking PrEP is a personal decision, so you shouldn’t feel pressured to tell anyone if you don’t want to.
It’s your choice to stop taking PrEP if you want to. Before you do, call your doctor or the clinic who prescribed you PrEP to let them know. Your doctor or our PrEP staff will tell you more about this, but if you want to stop PrEP, you must:
Continue to take PrEP for 1 month from the point in time when you might have last been exposed to HIV; and,
Get tested for HIV 4 weeks after stopping PrEP.
Pausing & Restarting PrEP
If you’ve been on PrEP, but stopped for a while, and are ready to resume taking PrEP one a day, make sure you get an HIV test before starting again.
People who may have HIV—even if they don’t know it—must not take PrEP because they may develop resistance to the medication. That means that PrEP (Truvada and other brands) won’t work for them but would cause problems instead. That’s why it’s important to get an HIV test and make sure you’re HIV-negative before you start PrEP after taking a break.
If you have stopped PrEP for more than 7 days, and would like to restart, call us—or your provider—so that you can get guidance on how to do this safely.
If you were prescribed PrEP, but didn’t start it within 7 days and had sex during this time, you will need to take another HIV test before you can start your medication.
Report any flu-like symptoms or rashes to your health care provider or our staff, since these could be symptoms of early HIV infection.
Can I switch PrEP brand from one brand to another?
According to what we know, there are many brands for the original PrEP such as Truvada, Ricovir-EM, Teno-EM, Tenof-EM, Tanvin-EM and these PrEP can be used interchangeably. They workd the same, so you can switch them when you need to lower the cost if you are paying for PrEP out of your own pocket.
|Big news: Truvada® went generic on September 30, 2020
The generic form of the medication is called emtricitabine 200mg/tenofovir disoproxil fumarate 300mg (FTC200/TDF300 for short).
The generic medication FTC200/TDF300 will protect you from HIV just as effectively as the brand-name version always has.
For the latest version of PrEP (2019) the original brand name is Descovy, the generic versions are TAFicita and TAFERO-EM which you can switch between three of them as well. But in many countries, Descovy is not that expensive anymore so you can stick with Descovy.
Combining PrEP With Other Prevention Strategies
PrEP isn’t 100% effective and also doesn’t protect against other STIs. If you’re taking PrEP, you should also take other steps to protect yourself like using condoms and lube and getting regularly tested for STIs.
Remember, it takes about 1 week of continuous dosing before you are protected by Truvada.
Health Monitoring While On PrEP
Regular visits to your PrEP provider are essential while you are taking PrEP.
At PULSE, after you start taking PrEP we repeat lab tests every 3 months.
Some people get tested every 6 months that's OK too but just make sure to get tested and remember that if you live in some big cities and are sexually active, the chance for getting infected with some bacterial or viral STDs are high.
Questions And Concerns
If you have been prescribed PrEP at PULSE, call us at (+66) 95 915 6385 if you have any questions or concerns, or if you’re going to run out of pills before your next visit. If you have an emergency, go to the hospital emergency room.
Content on this page was adapted from San Francisco City Clinic.
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