PrEP: Step By Step |

13 mins

PrEP: Step By Step

PrEP stands for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis. PrEP is a safe and effective way for people who are HIV negative to protect themselves against HIV by taking anti-HIV medication. But PrEP involves more than just taking the pills.

Using PrEP safely means getting support from a healthcare provider before you start and for as long as you continue to use PrEP. They can help you decide if PrEP is right for you, order the specific tests you need before starting PrEP, and write a prescription. Then they'll give you additional tests about every 3 months while you're using PrEP and write a new prescription.

Visit a doctor or clinic for tests

• 4th generation HIV test

• Full STI screening

• Kidney function test

• Pregnancy test (if appropriate)

Buy your PrEP

• Buy PrEP from a pharmacy or online. Visit for more information about buying PrEP online.

Get your prescription

• Remember, your prescription is a legal document so don’t lose it.

Retest every 3 months

• Return to the doctor or clinic every 3 months for tests and start the process over again.

There are a number of different ways that people can choose to take PrEP. If you try one and find it's not well suited for you, you may find another option that works better. If possible, you might want to talk to your medical provider about which option or options you think fit your needs so that they understand how you’ll be using PrEP.

Whatever dosing method you choose, you might find that a pill box can help you remember to take your pill when you're supposed to. If you're having trouble sticking to the regimen you've chosen, let your doctor know.

Daily Dosing

The most common way PrEP is prescribed is daily dosing: you take one pill every day. That works well for anyone, of any gender, and whether you are having vaginal or anal sex (or both). If you choose daily dosing you'll always have the highest level of protection against HIV. After about a week, enough PrEP builds up in your system that it can continue to provide protection even if you miss a pill occasionally.

Event-based dosing / PrEP 211

*If you have anal sex but not vaginal sex, there is another option that you can use. Event-based dosing, also called on-demand dosing or PrEP 211, involves using PrEP only around the time of sex. If you are having sex for an extended period of time, perhaps over a few days or a weekend, continue to take 1 pill every 24 hours until you have 2 sex-free days. Unlike with daily dosing, missing even one pill greatly reduces the effectiveness of event-based dosing so it’s important to take all of your doses correctly.

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