PrEP, also known as pre-exposure prophylaxis, is a preventive medication that protects you from HIV infections. As the name suggests, PrEP needs to be taken before a possible HIV exposure for it to work. PrEP also needs to be taken regularly to reach the maximum efficacy of the drug regime.
The most common and recommended way to take PrEP is to take it daily. Daily PrEP is the traditional approach advised for all gender identities, including cis-gender men and women as well as transgender people. It involves taking PrEP medication daily for as long as you plan on engaging in sexual activities.
You should speak to your healthcare provider if you think you need to change your schedule.
DAILY PrEP SCHEDULE
The Daily PrEP schedule involves taking one pill per day, every day. This schedule needs to be followed every day for as long as you require protection. In simple words, PrEP needs to be taken for as long as you plan to remain sexually active. Even if you know there is going to be a considerable wait before your next sexual encounter, it is still advisable to keep taking PrEP medication.
Studies have shown that taking PrEP medication 7 days a week is extremely effective. Taking PrEP daily without missing a dose builds up high levels of protection. According to data, drug efficacy can reach up to 99% when taken regularly without missing a dose. Conversely, the drug efficacy drops when the schedule is not followed properly.
CAN I STOP TAKING PrEP IF I DON’T HAVE SEX?
Taking PrEP is advised even if you’re not having sex. The reason is that most sexual encounters are unexpected. This medication needs time to build up in the system before it can be effective. The daily PrEP schedule ensures enough concentrations in your blood to provide sufficient protection. It is most effective after 7 days for anal protection and 21 days for vaginal and blood-to-blood protection.
However, PrEP is not supposed to be a lifelong program. It is supposed to be a mutual effort guided by your healthcare provider to provide you with maximum protection against HIV. Therefore, you can choose to stop taking PrEP if you are sure that you won’t be engaging in any sexual activity for quite some time.
Generally, it is advised to take PrEP daily for at least 28 days after your last sexual exposure before quitting it completely. Check with your doctor for more advice about how and when you can stop taking your PrEP medication. It is also highly recommended that you start PrEP medication as soon as you make the decision to resume sexual activities again. Consulting your doctor beforehand and scheduling appointments is advised before restarting the medication.